What is an arm lift?
An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that:
- Reduces excess sagging skin that droops downward
- Tightens and smoothes the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm
- Reduces localized pockets of fat in the upper arm region
Growing older, heredity, and weight fluctuations can cause your upper arms to have an appearance of drooping or sagging. This is something that cannot be fixed through exercise.
Arm lift surgery may be the surgery for you if the underside of your upper arms appears loose or sagging and is full due to extra skin and fat.
Arm lift recovery
During your recovery from arm lift surgery, gauze or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and your arms may be covered in elastic bandage or a garment that will compress them to minimize the swelling.
To drain any excess blood or fluid, they may temporarily place small, thin tubes under the skin.
You will be given direct instructions on how to care for the surgical site and drains, what medications to apply or to take orally for healing, certain concerns to be aware of, and when the best time is to follow up with your plastic surgeon.
Be sure to ask your arm lift surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period:
- Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
- What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
- Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? When will they be removed?
- Are stitches removed? When?
- When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
- When do I return for follow-up care?
Arm lift procedure steps
An arm lift procedure includes the following steps:
Step 1 – Anesthesia
- Medications are administered for your comfort during arm lift surgery. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – The incision
- Incision length and pattern during arm lift surgery depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as the best judgment of your plastic surgeon.
- Incisions are generally placed on the back of the arm, depending on the surgeon’s preference, and may extend from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow. Excess fat may be directly excised or treated with liposuction.
- Depending on your specific condition, incisions may be more limited. Then, underlying supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped with internal sutures. Finally, the skin is smoothed over the new contour of your arm.
Back of arm incision
Step 3 – Closing the incisions
- Your incisions will be closed either with absorbable sutures, or stitches that will be removed within one to two weeks following your arm lift.
Step 4 – See the results
- The smoother, tighter contours that result from brachioplasty are apparent almost immediately following your procedure, although there will likely be swelling and bruising.
Arm lift risks and safety information
The choice to have plastic surgery is completely personal, and you will have to decide if the results will fulfill your goals and if the potential complications and risks of arm lift surgery are acceptable.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure.
Arm lift surgery risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Poor wound healing
- Unsightly scarring
- Fluid accumulation (seroma)
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels and muscles
- Fatty tissue under the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Pain, which may persist
- Sutures may not absorb, but spontaneously surface through the skin, causing irritation, drainage and redness
- Possible need for revisional surgery
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you discuss all your questions with your plastic surgeon prior to the surgery.
Arm lift candidates
In general, arm lift candidates include:
- Adults with significant upper arm skin laxity
- Adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable and who are not significantly overweight
- Healthy individuals without medical conditions that impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Non-smokers Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations