Arm Lift

Brachioplasty, also known as an arm lift, reduces excess skin and fat between the underarm and the elbow to create smoother skin and contours as well as a more toned and proportionate appearance. This surgical procedure is ideal for patients who have excessive skin that does not respond to diet and exercise. A good candidate for an arm lift also maintains a stable weight, does not smoke, and has realistic expectations for the surgery process. Patients must also be healthy overall, with no major medical conditions that can be affected by surgery.

During brachioplasty, an incision is made along the inside of the upper arm; it often spans the underarm to the elbow. Excess fat is removed, either by direct excision or liposuction. Excess skin is trimmed away, and the arm’s underlying supportive tissue is tightened using internal absorbable sutures. Skin is then sutured back together; absorbable stitches may or may not be used to close the incision. Brachioplasty is performed under general anesthesia or intravenous sedation and, depending on the amount of skin and fat that are removed, takes 2 to 4 hours. Patients are able to return home the same day as surgery.

For a patient who needs only a small amount of skin and fat removed, a minimal-incision arm lift may be performed. A less invasive way to remove excess fat and tissue, it requires only a few small incisions near the underarm.

After brachioplasty, patients typically experience swelling and bruising, as well as mild discomfort that can be managed with pain medication. Drainage tubes may be placed at the incision site to collect any excess blood or fluid for the first few days after surgery. Compression bandages are usually worn to promote proper healing. The results of brachioplasty are visible right away, but become more apparent as swelling and bruising subsides, which usually takes 2 weeks.

In addition to the risks associated with any surgery, those related to brachioplasty include the following:

  • Loss of sensation
  • Permanent swelling
  • Persistent pain
  • Fat necrosis
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Nerve, blood-vessel and/or muscle damage

The scar left by brachioplasty is significant, although it fades over time.


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