Also known as “brachioplasty,” arm lift surgery is a surgical procedure that reshapes the inner portion of the upper arm, from the underarm region to the elbow.
Brachioplasty is performed to produce a more slender and toned upper arm contour. Weight fluctuations and natural aging cause the arm skin to stretch and become loose, fat deposits often accumulate in the upper arms as well. Over time, these conditions cause embarrassing, droopy, sagging arm flab with bat-like appearance to hang off the upper arms.
Am I a Candidate for an Arm Lift?
Ideal candidates for this procedure:
- Adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable and who are not significantly overweight.
- Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what an arm lift can accomplish
- Individuals committed to leading a healthy lifestyle of proper nutrition and fitness
The Benefits of Arm Lift Surgery
Get Back Your Confidence
An arm lift results in a more toned and proportionate appearance, patients experience a boost in confidence and self-esteem knowing that their arms are more slender, toned, and attractive.
As long as the patient maintains a healthy lifestyle, the results of an arm lift procedure are generally permanent. The arms will continue to age naturally over time.
Improved Upper Arm Contours
As you get older, the skin on your upper arms sag and become loose. While exercise can strengthen and improve muscle tone in the upper arm, it can’t address excess skin that has lost elasticity. Eliminating loose skin will help achieve better definition.
Arm Lift Options
- Ideal For: Relative excess of fat in the upper arm with good skin tone and minimal laxity
- Technique: Small incisions placed in inconspicuous places such as axillary crease to access the inner and anterior upper arm, elbow crease to access posterior and lateral arm.
- Benefit: Least invasive; produces inconspicuous scarring.
Limited Incision Arm Lift
- Ideal For: Excess fat and skin laxity confined to the proximal arm. Redundancy is either horizontal or vertical and horizontal.
- Technique: Incision is a vertically oriented wedge or an elliptical excision of skin, isolated to the axillary fold for strictly horizontal laxity. A T-shaped resection along the proximal upper arm is required for vertical and horizontal laxity.
- Benefit: Corrects changes needed to proximal arm only.
Medial Arm Lift
- Ideal For: Skin redundancy of the entire upper arm from elbow to chest wall
- Technique: A horizontal excision can be performed along the brachial groove if there is isolated vertical skin redundancy. If excess is horizontal and vertical, an L-shaped excision is made in the axilla which can extend into the arm as far as the excess skin in the arm does and even to the elbow if necessary.
- Benefit: Corrects severe changes to the inner arm in a vertical and horizontal dimension.
Extended Arm Lift
- Ideal For: Skin redundancy of the entire upper arm from elbow to chest wall then onto lateral chest wall
- Technique: An L-shaped excision in the axilla which extends into the arm as far as the excess skin in the arm does and even to the elbow if necessary from the axilla the excision extends onto the chest wall.
- Benefit: Corrects severe changes to the inner arm in a vertical and horizontal dimension with excess redundancy on the chest wall. Typically seen in massive weight loss patients.
The Arm Lift Process
Once you fill out the online questionnaire, you will be contacted to confirm an appointment for a one-on-one consultation with the surgeon. You may also provide photos through our HIPAA compliant system and during your visit your surgeon can provide a detailed evaluation and plan for your procedure.
This appointment also includes an analysis of your health history, any medications you are taking, and what you desire to achieve with the procedure. Please have all of this information with you when you come to your appointment. All of which can be submitted electronically through our HIPAA compliant patient portal.
The surgeon will discuss the techniques that will best provide you with the results you desire and answer any questions you may have. The incision pattern for your arm lift will be based on the problem areas that need to be addressed and which technique your surgeon determines to be most appropriate.
Your surgeon will review in detail all of the information you need to know prior to surgery.
Generally, patients should avoid nicotine products six weeks before surgery and stop taking anti-inflammatory medication (e.g., aspirin and ibuprofen) for at least two weeks before surgery. Some vitamins and supplements may also cause problems during or after surgery, so it is best to avoid them or to talk to your surgeon about potential side effects.
You may be asked to bathe using an antibacterial soap before your procedure.
Eating and drinking restrictions include:
- 8 hours before the procedure – stop eating heavy meals or foods, such as meat, fried foods, or fatty foods.
- 6 hours before the procedure – stop eating light meals or foods, such as toast or cereal.
- 6 hours before the procedure – stop drinking milk or drinks that contain milk.
- 2 hours before the procedure – stop drinking clear liquids.
Be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home and care for you for the first 48 hours after your procedure.
During the Procedure
Arm lift is performed with general anesthesia, in a surgery center, and takes approximately three to four hours to complete. An IV will be inserted into one of your veins. Based on the techniques agreed upon during your consultation, the surgeon will place the incisions as described above. Incisions are closed with absorbable sutures and covered with surgical tape. In some cases drains are used. Liposuction and fat grafting are tools that help shape the arms and will be discussed during your consultation.
After surgery, your blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, and blood oxygen level will be monitored until you leave the surgical center. You may continue to receive fluids and pain medicines through an IV.
You will have to wear compression stockings to help prevent blood clots and reduce swelling in your lower legs. You will be advised to wear arm sleeves with moderate compression to aid with arm swelling and to keep you comfortable. Arm swelling will typically subside after about three weeks but may last as long as 6 months.
Expect pain, bruising, and tenderness for which you will be provided pain medications as needed.
For the first few days after surgery you will need to get plenty of rest. Most patients are able to return to work in two weeks and resume regular exercise after about six weeks.
Your surgeon will give you more detailed information about what you can expect during your recovery.
Arm Lift FAQs
Q. What results can I expect from an arm lift?
A. The dramatic improvement in arm contour following arm lift surgery can greatly enhance your body image. A smooth, toned arm that matches your body image and personal goals does, however, come with visible scars. This is a fair trade-off to achieving a body contour that matches your body weight and proportion.
Q. How long will arm lift results last?
A. The results of arm lift will be long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness. However, most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.
Q. What can arm lift surgery not do?
A. An arm lift cannot correct weakened muscles of the upper arm; in fact many individuals who seek brachioplasty are relatively fit individuals who are bothered by a condition that cannot be corrected through exercise. Liposuction alone can remove excess fat deposits where skin has good elasticity and is able to naturally conform to new body contours. In cases where skin elasticity is poor, a arm lift along with liposuction may be recommended.