Arm Lift

The back of the arms is a notoriously difficult area for many people. Anatomically, the skin tends to be thin here and is often filled with fat. This “flabby” skin “flapping in the breeze” is a source of considerable distress.

What is Arm Lift Surgery?

An arm lift, technically called a brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure to correct loose, saggy skin and excess fat deposits in the upper arm. As we age, the effects of gravity and changes in our skin quality can cause our upper arm skin to become loose and flabby. When there is only excess fat in the upper arms, liposuction can be considered instead of an arm lift. However, only an arm lift can tighten droopy skin.

Benefits of Upper Arm Lift

The goals of arm lift surgery are to:

  • Remove loose skin and excess fat deposits in the upper arms
  • Tighten the upper arms and improve skin quality
  • Restore a more normal appearance of the upper arms

Arm Lift Cost

The cost of arm lift surgery depends on whether you will need liposuction alone versus removal of the skin. The best way to determine the cost is to come to our office for a consultation where our surgeons will advise you on the best course to take. At the same time, our Cosmetic Coordinator will tell you about the cost involved.

Please keep in mind that financing is a good option for many patients. There are numerous financing plans to suit most budgets.

Arm Lift Procedure

An arm lift usually takes 2 to 3 hours, depending on the extent of work required.

The incisions for an arm lift begin in the armpits. It can either end in the armpit of extend to the elbows. The incision length and pattern depends on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed. The incision is strategically placed in the inner arm to camouflage the scar as much as possible.

After the incisions are made, the skin and fat is separated from the underlying muscles in the arm. Excess skin and fat are then removed. Occasionally, before stitching the incision, a temporary tube is inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site. After the incisions are closed, gauze and an elastic bandage are applied to minimize bruising and swelling.

Recovery after Arm Lift Surgery

After the surgery, there will be swelling and bruising at the incision sites. It is common to have some discomfort, which can be controlled with medication. Propping the arms on some pillow will help keep the swelling down.

Although most patients are up and about in a few days, plan on taking it easy for at least the first week after surgery. Some numbness of the skin is normal and temporary. You must avoid lifting and pushing anything for several days. However, it is important that you start walking as soon as possible.

If drainage tubes were inserted, you will be taught how to take care of them and record the amount of fluid that comes out of it. The steps are very easy and simple to follow. Your surgeon will remove the tubes in about a week when the drainage slows to an acceptable level.

Most patients are back to work or school in 7 to 14 days. Although it is important to walk, you should avoid strenuous activity, including jogging, lifting, heavy housework, sex, or any activity that may put excessive stretch on your arms. Healing will continue for several weeks as swelling dissipates and incision lines fade.

Arm Lift Risks and Complications

Although unlikely, complications after arm lift surgery is possible.


After surgery, there may be small differences between the left and right arm in terms of the size and the scar. If the difference is significant, an additional procedure may be required to correct the asymmetry.


The appearance of the scar is variable and depends on your own genetic background. Given the same surgery, some people will scar very well and others will have more noticeable scars. Scars are never invisible but they do fade over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How much time is required for an arm lift?
A: The surgery requires approximately 2-3 hours. As with all surgeries, the amount of time needed varies from patient to patient.

Q: Is an arm lift an inpatient or outpatient procedure?
A: Outpatient.

Q: What are some common side effects?
A: Most side effects of arm lifts are temporary. They include discomfort, pain, swelling, numbness, and bruising. Because an arm lift includes removal of skin, there will be a visible scar in the inner arm.

Q: What is the recovery time?
A: Most patients are able to return to work or school in 7 to 14 days.

Q: How long do the results last?
A: The results after an arm lift last for many years. However, the influences of aging and gravity will continue as time passes. The exact length of time varies with each individual.

Q: How do I tell whether I need liposuction of the arms or an arm lift?
A: The decision between liposuction and an arm lift depends on the amount of excess skin and fat. If there are only moderate excess fat without much loose skin, liposuction is usually a better option. However, if there is sagging skin or if there is substantial excess fat, an arm lift is preferred. A consultation with one of our surgeons will help you determine which option is best for you.