Brachioplasty, or as it is commonly called, arm lift surgery, is a procedure performed to surgically reduce the loose extra skin that ‘sags’ from the bicep and triceps region of a raised arm.  This isn’t just a cosmetic surgery for people looking for smoother, more defined upper arms.  For obese patients, a sudden massive loss in weight, such as with strictly controlled diets or gastric weight-loss surgery, can leave behind excess loose and sagging skin.  So even though they have worked so hard to get down to a healthier weight, their old body shape still haunts them, in a way, and the loose skin seems unsightly.

There are natural body processes that cause the same thing, because with age, our skin loses its elasticity and its ability to ‘firm’ up. The result is very flabby looking upper arms, even if you have a good muscle tone there.

Following liposuction treatment, if too much fat has been removed, there may be unsightly excess skin.  Additionally, pockets of fat may be left behind, which arm lift surgeries can remove.  It should be noted, however, that liposuction may be sufficient to provide the desired results if skin elasticity is good and there is not very much loose skin.

Arm lifts are a somewhat minor cosmetic surgery. The area operated and altered is the entire length of the upper arm, with an incision from the armpit, in varying lengths toward the elbow, depending on where the loose skin is sagging. There are variations to brachioplasties as well. Depending upon what the patient needs and the amount of trace scarring they’re comfortable with, there are three different approaches:

Limited Incision Arm Lift

In limited incision or short scar brachioplasties, as the name suggests, a small incision is made near the armpit and the excess skin is removed (or ‘tucked’), along with any tiny pockets of fat, as long as they do not threaten to be too visible.  However, this works best for people with very little loose skin around the armpit area and is not suitable for people with excess skin all along their upper arm.  If too much skin is removed with this axillary method, it makes a deformed look.

Standard Arm Lift

A standard brachioplasty uses an incision along the under side of the upper arm in varying lengths, from armpit to elbow, to remove excess skin so that the result is an appropriately toned upper arm.

Extended Arm Lift

With an extended brachioplasty, the incision is taken beyond the armpit back down onto the side of the chest wall, and the excess skin is removed.  This is extremely useful for people with a lot of loose skin on the upper part of their torso.  In addition, this helps give the chest definition as well.  This is really useful for people with weight-loss related loose skin, because this upper chest area is often a place with a lot of it.

The surgery is a simple procedure performed under general anesthesia.  Recovery time after the surgery is also relatively short, with close monitoring for at least 48 hours and complete bandaging for the first 3-7 days, depending upon the patient. A shower is usually permitted in 24 to 48 hours, but getting the wound wet by soaking in a tub is definitely not advised, so it’s best to consult a doctor about it first. With good wound hygiene and proper medication, healing occurs steadily. The process may be a little longer in diabetics and people with any low grade chronic diseases. Any itching or discharge from the surgical site should be reported too.


Patients are asked to avoid heavy lifting for about 10-14 days.  Complete wound healing and recovery to feel 100% normal again occurs from four to six weeks after the surgery, which is why any heavy lifting or abrasive forms of exercise are restricted, along with any activities that cause undue stretching of the upper arms – all these can disrupt the healing process and cause bad scarring. The scars themselves gradually fade in about six months. Topical creams and nourishment may help scars fade to an unnoticeable remnant, or dermal treatments like laser can be used.  After the scars have faded… you can proudly wear sleeveless tops, for life!