Should I Get an Arm Lift Consultation During the Private Health Fund Waiting Period?

It’s never too early for an arm lift consultation with Dr. Bernard Beldholm, FRACS — even while you wait for the private health fund waiting period to end. It’s smart to book a the consultation ahead of time for many reasons. Keep reading to find out why!

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A common question post-weight loss patients ask…

Lindy writes, “I had a gastric sleeve surgery in January 2019. I have so far lost 53 kilograms, with about 25 kilograms still to go. My arms have always been a horrible part of my body, and I always wear cardigans or long sleeves to hide them. I decided that no matter what, I will be getting them done once I hit that goal and my private health fund’s waiting period is over.”

The question is: When should she come in for an arm lift surgery consultation?

As you will discover in this article, it’s a good idea to come in for a cosmetic surgery consultation well before the health fund waiting period ends.

Why come in early for a skin removal consultation?

The journey to get cosmetic surgery after weight loss doesn’t happen overnight.

There is a lot of planning to do.

The consultation allows patients to plan out surgeries. Often, post-weight loss (PWL) patients have multiple areas with loose skin. Loose abdominal skin is usually the first area patients hope to address. Next, many patients want an inner thigh lift, following by an arm lift, breast lift, or upper thoracic lift.

However, surgery does not necessarily have to occur in that order. A lot of patients want to remove loose arm skin first so they can wear clothes they like. Regardless of the skin removal surgery, it is important to plan accordingly. Some big surgeries, such as a body lift, require healing time before moving on to the next surgery.

Doctor Bernard will help you create a surgical plan.

At the consultation, you and Doctor Bernard will plan the surgeries out so you have milestones. This gives patients a good timeline for how they can transform their body with fat removal surgeries over the next few months to years.

Further, the private health fund waiting period takes up to one year. You will need paperwork from a surgeon, price quotes, etc. It takes time to get approved after submitting paperwork. The sooner you get the paperwork done, the sooner you may get surgery.

Private health fund

Private health funds usually have a 12-month waiting period. There’s other issues as well. For example, if a patient had substantial weight loss, but still has a few more kilos to lose, it’s a good idea to come in for a cosmetic surgery consultation as soon as possible.

The rules are if you are using a health fund to pay for post-weight loss cosmetic surgery, the item number for the surgery must match the condition you are experiencing. For example, a post-weight loss patient in need of a body lift will must see Doctor Bernard in order to use the lipectomy item number to pay for surgery.

At the consultation, Doctor Bernard examines the patient and determines if they are eligible to use the lipectomy item number. Certain criteria must be met. For example, the patient must suffer from rashes and discomfort from loose skin in addition to cosmetic concerns.

3 rules for private health funds to pay for cosmetic surgery

The three criteria are that patients must have:

  • Lost five BMI levels
  • Suffer from medical conditions such as rashes and discomfort in the area to be treated
  • Maintained a stable weight for six months.

Private health funds typically have a 12-month waiting period for patients that meet the criteria above.

Ensure you have the best private health fund coverage

There are many Health Funds on the marketplace. It is essential to have the right coverage to qualify for financial help paying for post-weight loss cosmetic surgery.

If you don’t have the correct level of coverage, they will not cover you for that item number. Some patients find they need to change their private health fund in order to get the coverage they need.

If you aren’t sure, Doctor Bernard will be glad to help. Simply bring your paperwork for the health fund to the consultation.

Early release of super for plastic surgery

If you plan to use a superfund early for cosmetic surgery, then you must apply to the ATR first. There is a lot of paperwork needed to qualify for early release of super. A consultation is one of the steps that must occur before submitting paperwork.

Doctor Bernard’s office will provide you with the cosmetic surgeon paperwork you will need to get approved. This includes a price quote.

You will also need paperwork from your GP (general physician). Patients must also get a quote from the hospital and nurses. This process can take a couple of months. So if you are thinking of getting any sort of post-weight loss surgery that qualifies for early release of super, just come in.

It’s much better to come in early, know your options and then plan for it, rather than wait too long.

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Planning cosmetic surgery after weight loss

There are many types of PWL skin removal surgeries to consider.

  • Belt lipectomy (lower body lift surgery)
  • Inner thigh lift surgery
  • Arm lift surgery
  • Arm lift with auto-augmentation breast lift
  • Liposuction
  • Breast lift surgery for sagging breasts
  • Upper thoracic lift for excess chest skin
  • Tummy tucks (ex. Fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty)

Your arm lift consultation

There are two ways to meet Doctor Bernard for an arm lift consultation as of the date of this posting (September 2020).

In-person consultation

The best way is to come see Doctor Bernard in person for a consultation. An in-office consultation has the benefit of a physical exam. This allows him to examine loose skin better than a video consultation.

A consultation also gives patients a chance to discuss arm lift complications, arm lift recovery time, full cost of arm lift surgery, and answer all your questions with Doctor Bernard in person. You will also get a price quote and paperwork for the private health fund financial assistance for plastic surgery.

Our office has taking serious precautions to ensure patients are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes regular sterilization and cleaning of all surfaces. Appointments are spaced apart to limit the number of people in the waiting room. Chairs are spaced apart as well. All patients and staff must wear a protective face mask inside the building.

We are committed to your safety.

Video consultation for plastic surgery

Many patients have asked, ‘Do you offer telephone consultations during COVID?’

The answer is Yes.

Due to COVID-19, Doctor Bernard is offering Zoom consultations and it has worked quite well. As of the date of this posting (September 2020), all patients can choose between a consultation in person or a Zoom consultation while COVID is going on.

This allows patients to get all your price quotes, hospital dates and get your private fund sorted by Zoom video — all without having to travel during COVID-19.

However, patients must come in for a physical examination with Doctor Bernard prior to surgery. While video has been helpful for assessing skin removal, nothing beats a physical exam.

A surgeon cannot asses skin laxity on a video call as well as a physical exam. So a video consult is really a preliminary consultation, but it gives you and Doctor Bernard a good idea of the type of surgery you may need. After learning what you hope to accomplish with surgery, he will create a preliminary surgical plan. A future in-person consultation will finalize everything.

Video consultations have a huge benefit — especially for patients that live far away. As such, when the COVID-19 crisis is over, he has decided to continue virtual consults for interstate patients. For example, Patient X lives near the Queensland border. Therefore, she can choose to come in for physical consultation or a Zoom consultation with Doctor Bernard. Patients that live in Cameron, Perth, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Sydney, Melbourne, New South Wales, etc. will have the same option, even after COVID ends.

Patients often travel from far away to see Doctor Bernard. Of course they want the results from a body contouring surgeon that specialize in post-weight loss and post-pregnancy. But they also want privacy.

Coming to get cosmetic surgery in Hunter Valley allow interstate patients to recover in peace and privacy for two weeks or so before returning home. Video consults have made it easy for these patients to plan for surgery without unnecessary travel back and forth.

Is a plastic surgery consultation free?

Like most body contouring surgeons, Doctor Bernard charges a consultation fee. Keep in mind you’ll only pay this fee once. Many PWL patients come in for several consultations. You will only pay for the first consultation.

That is true even if you decide to get an arm lift, tummy tuck, etc. a year after the consultation. At that point, you’ll need to come in for a follow-up before surgery day. Follow-up consultations, after paying for the first consult, are free.

Steps to receive financial assistance for cosmetic surgery

To get help paying for PWL cosmetic surgery, there are a few steps. This process can take at least a few months, up to one year.

Types of arm lifts

Sagging arm skin is a common complaint for patients that lost a lot of weight. Once the arm fat is gone, saggy arm skin hangs unattractively. This is both cosmetically displeasing and a source of discomfort with skin rashes in skin folds.

Doctor Bernard’s arm lift surgery is customized to your exact needs. These include:

  • Mini arm lift
  • Full arm lift
  • Extended arm lift
  • Arm lift with breast/chest sculpting

The best arm lift surgery for you depends on how much hanging arm skin is present and the results you hope to achieve with arm lift surgery after weight loss.

Arm lift pros and cons

Are you thinking of getting an arm lift (brachioplasty)? Here are factors to consider.

Removes excess arm skin and fat

An arm lift removes extra skin and fat that hangs on the upper arms. Arm liposuction refines excess fat, and the skin is surgically removed. The arms have a drastically improved appearance between the elbow and armpit.

Reveals toned arm muscles

Removing hanging arm skin and fat helps show off arm muscles after working out. Many patients are encouraged to see slimmer arms and feel inspired to get in the gym. It’s easier to see results of arm workouts without extra skin and fat gone in the way.

Improves body confidence

Arm lifts help patients feel confident in their looks. They no longer need to hide their arms with clothing. Attractive body contours may help boost esteem for patients that feel excess arm skin is holding them back in life.

Lets you wear clothes you like

Lindy’s question mentions that she wears cardigans to hide loose upper arm skin after weight loss. This is a common complaint among PWL patients, both men and women alike.

One of the main benefits of an arm lift is the freedom to wear what you like. Without all that loose arm skin, patients feel more confident wearing short-sleeve tops. With Australia’s hot weather, short sleeves makes summer far more comfortable.

Finally, you will have more choices when it comes to your wardrobe. This makes it easier to get dressed for work and social events.

One drawback is the arm lift scar

One of the biggest downsides of an arm lift is the scar. It is quite long scar. Patients with minimal excess arm skin are often concerned about scarring. People with a lot of extra arm skin are usually less worried about arm lift scars because they feel it is worth it to remove hanging arm skin.

Slimming the arms so they look more ‘normal’ has a big benefit that far outweighs the surgical scar for most PWL patients. That is especially true for patients with skin rashes and discomfort from excess skin. Excess skin removal surgery can make a big improvement to quality of life. The scar is a small price to pay in most cases.

The arm lift scar usually isn’t visible from the front. With the arms relaxed at your sides, it may not be seen at all. Each patient is different, however. Doctor Bernard makes it a point to discuss scarring with you before you decide to get surgery. He feels it is important that patients know what to expect. This is how you get a good surgical outcome — without any surprises.

Is arm lift surgery worth it?

Now it’s time to weigh the pros and cons of an arm lift. It is up to you to decide. While you consider an arm lift, Doctor Bernard is happy to help advise you and answer questions.

So far, he has not had any post-weight loss patients that are too worried about the scar. The benefit of removing loose, hanging arm skin is so much greater. Improved quality of life is possible with arm lift surgery.