Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

What Is an Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)?

An arm lift, or brachioplasty, can lift and tighten up loose skin in the upper arms, resulting in a firmer, more youthful contour. Brachioplasty can be done alone or in conjunction with other body contouring procedures.

The effects of aging on the skin are familiar to all of us. Over time, the skin changes in four ways: it loses thickness, loses elasticity, loses adherence to the underlying tissue, and is affected by gravity. At the same time, the deep layers of fat, muscle and bone thin as well. The amount of elastic tissue and collagen present in the dermis (the deep layer of the skin) also decreases. One area where these changes are especially apparent is the upper arm.

Who Is a Good Candidate for an Arm Lift?

In general, you are a candidate for an arm lift if you have significant upper arm skin laxity. Your weight should be relatively stable, and you should not be significantly overweight. You must be a nonsmoker, and you should be healthy without any medical conditions that can impair healing or increase the risk of your surgery. Candidates should also be able to maintain realistic expectations regarding the appearance of their results.

Ideal candidates will benefit from an arm lift if you:

  • Have loose, sagging skin on your upper arms.
  • Are comfortable with a visible scar on the arm.
  • Are at a stable weight and are willing to commit to maintaining that weight to avoid altering the appearance of your results.

Arm Lift Before & After

arm lift before and after

*Individual results may vary

View more before & after photos

Can I combine an Arm Lift with another procedure?

It is not uncommon for patients to combine their arm lift with other procedures. Combining multiple procedures means just one time under anesthesia and only one recovery period. Often, patients who consider arm lift surgery have lost a considerable amount of weight and have other areas that could benefit from a lift. The most common combinations that we see include thigh lift, abdominoplasty, or breast surgery. That said, brachioplasty can be combined with whatever procedures interest a patient and work in their favor for cosmetic improvements. Brachioplasty may be combined with facial procedures such as eyelid rejuvenation, neck lift or liposuction, facelift surgery, and more.

How Can I Prepare for Arm Lift Surgery?

While preparing for brachioplasty, you will be asked to avoid taking certain medications or adjust your current medications that you are using.  You must stop smoking and avoid taking aspirin and anti-inflammatory drugs as this can increase your bleeding during the procedure.

Is the Arm Lift procedure painful?

The arm lift itself is not painful. General anesthesia prevents pain receptors from working for a short time. After surgery, patients experience mild to moderate discomfort, as well as swelling and bruising. Compression helps to some degree because it minimizes swelling and holds the surgical area snuggly. Patients should take their prescription painkillers as directed, starting at the prescribed time, to avoid unnecessary pain.

Brachioplasty Procedure

Anesthesia is administered for your comfort during brachioplasty. We offer local and general anesthesia. Your surgeon will discuss these options with you and determine which one is best for your procedure. Incision length and type is dependent on where the problematic area is that we are addressing. Once determined, your surgeon will discuss which will work best for your procedure.

Common incision areas are on the inside of the arm or on the back of the arm. This depends on your surgeons preference and what works best for your individual needs. Your incision may extend from the underarm to just above your elbow. Any extra fat that needs to be addressed may be directly removed or can be treated with liposuction. After your specific issues have been addressed, the skin is smoothed over the new contour of your arm.

Your incisions can be closed either with absorbable sutures or typical stitches. Regular stitches will have to be removed within one to two weeks following your surgery.

Patient Testimonial

“Dr Knoll is very professional and I feel like he listens to me and answers my questions with very good explanation. He makes me feel comfortable.” – Robert H.

What is recovery like from an Arm Lift?

Brachioplasty recovery can take a total of about six weeks. Patients are discharged shortly after their anesthesia begins wearing off and they can walk safely on their own. It is necessary for someone to drive the patient home. No driving is allowed for a few weeks. Someone should also be at home with the patient for at least a few days. This person will help with daily tasks that are limited due to the necessity to keep the arms rather still. During the first 3 to 4 days after surgery, or longer as needed, the patient should rest and sleep as much as the body requests. This should be offset with comfortable walking to maintain sufficient blood circulation for healing and the prevention of blood clots.

Patients have limited use of their arms for 1 to 2 weeks after Brachioplasty. They should avoid raising their arms overhead and stretching the arms extensively. This means that exercise may also be somewhat curbed for that time. Full clearance for exercise and other activities may not happen for the full 6 weeks of recovery. Patients can expect to receive detailed instructions from their surgeon, and should follow them carefully to prevent complications.

How do I sleep after an Arm Lift?

After arm lift surgery, it is necessary to sleep on the back rather than on the sides or stomach. To improve comfort, patients can prop up their arms with a few pillows during sleep. It may also be more comfortable to sleep with a pillow beneath the knees so they are slightly bent.  This should be done for a few weeks or until the follow-up visit, at which sleeping position may be discussed.

When can I return to normal activities after an Arm Lift?

Patients may resume some light activities like walking as soon as they are comfortable. Walking is a valuable activity for post-surgical recovery because it stimulates circulation that delivers oxygen-rich blood to the tissues that are healing. More strenuous activities must be postponed for at least 2 to 3 weeks. It may be possible to return to work 7 to 10 days after surgery, depending on the physical demands of one’s job. This and other activity clearances can be discussed at the post-op visit.

What can I expect from my results?

Initially, the results of arm lift surgery are slightly obscured by the postoperative swelling that naturally occurs. Compression garments are also worn for several weeks and can hide the arms from view. The majority of swelling resolves in the six weeks that follow surgery, after which time the full effects of the lift are apparent. The outcome of Brachioplasty is considered permanent because the procedure excises extra tissue to create new contours. Once cleared from the surgeon, patients may resume a healthy lifestyle and exercise regimen that support long-term results.

Is an Arm Lift Painful?

The arm lift procedure involves surgery, so invasive surgical techniques will be used during your brachioplasty. However, medications such as intravenous sedation and general anesthesia will be given to you to minimize any pain and discomfort you might feel during your procedure. On average, patients typically do not feel any pain or discomfort during an arm lift due to the general anesthesia given.

The recovery experience may be more difficult than the actual procedure. As recovering from surgery requires, healing from your arm lift can involve pain and discomfort. You may experience soreness, swelling, bruising, and tenderness after your surgery. These side effects are common and should lessen within a few days. Recovery is a process, but most patients find it bearable. If you experience discomfort during your recovery, we recommend taking Tylenol to help relieve painful symptoms.

Are There Any Risks with an Arm Lift?

While an arm lift is a safe procedure to have, the decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits, risks, and potential complications 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
  • Bleeding
  • Damage to deeper structures, such as nerves, blood vessels and muscles
  • Fatty tissue under the skin might die (fat necrosis)
  • Fluid accumulation (seroma)
  • Infection
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
  • Pain, which may persist
  • Poor wound healing
  • Possible need for revisional surgery
  • Sutures may not absorb, but spontaneously surface through the skin, causing irritation, drainage and redness
  • Unsightly scarring

These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.

What Are the Benefits of An Arm Lift?

Although an arm lift is safe and effective, it can still come with several risks. These risks include

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Infection
  • Seroma
  • Nerve damage
  • Thrombus
  • Poor wound healing
  • Need for revision surgery
  • Changes in skin elasticity
  • Fat necrosis
  • Pneumonia

At Elite Plastic Surgery, our highly skilled surgeons draw from years of experience in cosmetic surgery to provide surgical treatments that prioritize patient safety. Under their care, patients can feel comfortable and confident that their surgical procedure will be performed in a way that minimizes risks as much as possible.

How Long Do the Results from an Arm Lift Last?

The results from an arm lift procedure are semi-permanent. The excess skin and fat removed from your arm during a brachioplasty will not return. However, if you suddenly gain a significant amount of weight, new fat and skin can develop in the area. As your body ages, it will be natural to lose firmness in the skin on your arm. However, if you can maintain a stable weight through a healthy lifestyle, the results from your arm lift can be relatively permanent.

Schedule A Consultation

If you’re considering Brachioplasty, contact our office today! Call (616) 459-1907 to schedule a consultation with one of our board-certified plastic surgeons.

View Before & After Images View Post-Op Instructions

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