Actual patients in bikinis

Arm Lift Surgery

Arm lift surgery (sometimes known as brachioplasty) encompasses several procedures designed to treat excessive skin and fat in the upper arms. With age and weight gain, upper arm skin can become loose and flabby. The goal of brachioplasty is to tighten the skin and remove the excess. All of the anterior arm lift techniques share the same basic characteristic: an incision in the front of the arm where it may be more visible, which is usually located over major blood vessels, nerves, and lymphatic channels in the arm, and which may or may not extend into the armpit region.

Incisions in the front can be short (mini) or lengthy (standard) depending on the amount of skin excess and the goals of the surgery. In fact, the anterior incisions usually involve removal of less skin when compared to posterior arm lift. In the past, we used all of the variations of the anterior arm lift techniques and have been happy with the results. However, some patients may have thickened scars with the anterior techniques, and because of location, such incisions may be more visible. We currently recommend the anterior approach only when a small amount of excess skin is present (mini arm lift).

Incisions in the back of the arm are easier to hide and, in our opinion, heal better than incisions in the front of the arms, resulting in higher patient satisfaction. The technique allows for short (mini) and lengthy scars (standard). The standard technique is used more often and offers several advantages to patients. First, the incision is placed where there are no vessels, nerves and lymphatic channels. Additionally, more skin surface area can be removed from the back of the arm, and the excess skin that extends into the armpit or chest is easily removed with an extension of the incision into this area.

The recovery after arm lift plastic surgery can be quite comfortable and takes about 10 to 14 days. Patients require bandaging with Ace wraps for two weeks and only a few sutures need removal after surgery. The operation is most often done under general anesthesia, as an outpatient surgery (without a stay in the hospital). Most people are back to work within a week.

Body Lift at a glance

Avg. Surgery Time

2 - 3 hours

Anesthesia

General

Location

Certified Outpatient Center or Specialty Hospoital

Recovery

  • Back to work: less than 2 weeks
  • Full exercise: 6 weeks

Am I a Good Candidate?

  • Healthy
  • Non-smoker
  • No medical conditions that reduce wound healing
  • Unhappy with excess skin and fat in the arms
  • Realistic goals and expectations

Arm Lift (Anterior)

The anterior arm lift procedure is a surgical procedure to remove loose skin and excess fat deposits in the upper arm. In some cases we may suggest that liposuction in conjunction with an arm lift to remove excess fat in the upper arms. With aging and major weight loss, the upper arm skin and fat becomes loose and flabby. A mini or standard arm lift may be recommended depending on the amount of skin that requires removal. Arm lift surgery using incisions in the front are effective, but the incisions may be more visible, especially when extending the arms to shake hands or wave at people, require drains for several days and may be associated with a slightly higher risk of thickened scars.

Arm Lift (Posterior)

Posterior arm lift surgery, in our opinion, is superior to the other techniques available for contouring of the human upper arm, armpit region and chest wall. It can be successfully employed in patients after gastric bypass surgery with very high amounts of excess skin or applied to patients with smaller excesses of skin, just as effectively. The incision follows the natural location of the excess skin and fat in the arm (and which sags the most), and which continues to extend in the posterior axillary (armpit) fold and on to the chest wall. A special technique, called a Z-plasty. is used to transition the incision through the armpit region during the posterior brachioplasty.

Advantages of the posterior arm lift include a scar that heals well, with less inflammation, looks better, is less noticeable, hides in the back of the arm, is not seen when you raise your arm to shake hands or wave at people, makes the use of drains optional (no lymphatic channels), and allows for more skin removal when required. Additionally, the incision can be extended into the posterior axillary fold and chest wall, when indicated, to improve the appearance of this area when patients lose a lot of weight on their own or after gastric bypass surgery.

arm tuck incision diagram
Diagram: Incision line for arm lift.
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Guerra Plastic Surgery Center in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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