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Arm Lift/Brachioplasty

The formal term for an arm lift is a “brachioplasty.” This procedure may be as simple as performing liposuction of the arm only, or it may involve varying degrees of skin excision.


Brachioplasty with Skin Excision

Brachioplasties with skin excision might be only a short scar in the armpit and down a little of the upper arm, to the more classic skin excision down most of the upper arm, to cases that might extend the skin excision well beyond the elbow. Typically, moderate fat fullness of the upper arm can be managed with liposuction and a short scar to tighten up the skin.

Patients who have had major weight loss more typically need the excision of skin to go farther down toward the elbow to give a nice even youthful contour. The bariatric patient who has had surgery to assist with weight loss can be left with very loose skin in the upper arm and even past the elbow, so these patients on occasion need excision into the proximal or mid forearm if the laxity is that significant. Of course, these incision options are just that…”options,” and what you desire as a result will drive some of that decision making.

Over the last several years, Dr. Nelson has found that moving the incision a bit lower on the inner arm gives a more appealing scar. Also, in the longer skin excisions, giving a bit of an “s” shape to the scar going down the arm makes it less obvious and provides a nicer result. These scar adjustments are important because, historically, Plastic Surgeons have always considered arm lift scars to be more problematic. Therefore, anything we can do to hide the scars better and make them more attractive is good for the patient.


Brachioplasty with Liposuction

Most patients having arm lifts also receive some liposuction of the arms. Not only does liposuction help contour the arms, but it can also be used to help separate the plan of dissection when we remove the skin. Liposuction can be done above the nerves and vessels, so when the skin is trimmed away and the wounds are closed, you will have less numbness and swelling than you would if some of those nerves were removed with the skin.

Possible Complications

Following arm lift surgery, patients will have some numbness and swelling for a while. Some numbness might prove to be permanent because some of the micro-nerves that pass in the skin that was removed may be cut, and it’s never certain that they will grow back to a normal state. As with all surgical procedures, arm lift patients also have a low risk of infection, hematoma (blood collection), seroma (fluid collection), as well as the numbness issues.



The amount of time needed for recovery after brachioplasty depends on the size of the skin excision and length of the scar. A patient who has undergone a small brachioplasty may be fine with his or her daily activities in 4 or 5 days, whereas a patient who has undergone a large brachioplasty may be out of work and activities for two weeks. All arm lift patients, whether with liposuction alone or with skin excision, will wear a compression garment for several weeks to decrease swelling in the arms while healing.

Brachioplasty is a great option in body contouring to bring your arms back to a better aesthetic appearance. Contact us for a consult to address your specific needs.

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