Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

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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. An arm lift--or brachioplasty--can lift and tighten up loose skin in the upper arms, resulting in a firmer, more youthful contour.


*The 2010 national average cost for Arm Lift Surgery is $4,070.

Arm Lift surgery can be performed on a large variety of patients including normal weight patients who simply need a little tightening.

Arm Lift also known as Brachioplasty, is a plastic surgery procedure with Long-lasting results.









  1. How is this surgery performed?
  2. How long does the surgery take?
  3. Where will the procedure be performed?
  4. What can I expect after surgery?
  5. What is the recovery period like?
  6. What is the long-term outcome like for most people?
  7. Other information
  8. What are the most commong benefits of the surgery?
  9. What are the risks and limitations?


How is arm lift surgery performed?

Your doctor may offer you the choice between using a local or general anesthetic; however, most patients are most comfortable with a general anesthetic for this procedure.

The doctor begins by marking the area of excess skin, with the patient either standing or sitting. The anesthesia is administered. Incisions are made on the inner and under surface of the arm, most often in a zigzagged line. The pattern of skin removal usually follows an elliptical or triangular shape. Often some fat is suctioned at the same time. The surgical opening may run from the armpit to as low as the elbow.

While the excess skin and fat is removed, the remaining skin is stretched and sutured into place. Occasionally, a drain is used to lead excess fluids out from the site of incision, allowing the skin better to adhere to the tissue beneath. The incisions are then bandaged.

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How long does the surgery take?

An arm lift usually takes about two hours. After a monitored time in the recovery room, patients can usually go home the same day.

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Where will the procedure be performed?

The procedure most often takes place in a surgical suite.

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What can I expect after brachioplasty?

After the procedure you will feel groggy. Your arm will be placed in a special compression garment to help the newly-sculpted skin adhere to the tissue underneath. You will probably have several layers of stitches on the upper arm, possibly with a drain inserted to help the skin to adhere to the underlying tissue. Some of the stitches will be absorbable, and some may have to be removed by your surgeon during a follow-up visit. After a brief stay in the recovery room, you will be allowed to go home.

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What is the brachioplasty recovery period like?

For the first week following surgery, you will have to avoid strenuous activity, including bending and lifting. You will be able to shower on the third day after surgery. The swelling is mild to moderate, and peaks at two to three days. Any stitches that are not absorbed will be removed after about a week. Some grogginess may persist for five to seven days.

While each person's recovery is unique, the recovery period after an arm lift generally lasts one to two weeks. You'll probably be able to return to work in a week, and resume exercise within two weeks. Strenuous workouts and contact sports can be engaged in after about four weeks.

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What is the long-term outcome like for most people?

  • Improved balance and proportion in the contour of the arm.
  •  Greater confidence and comfort in clothing.
  •  A natural and presentable appearance in the first week that gradually improves further over the next three to six months.

Please note that the natural aging process will eventually affect the whole body, including the area treated in this procedure. Still, the contouring effects of arm lifts are typically long-lasting, and most people are very pleased with their results.

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Other information

An arm lift is usually not suitable for patients who have had a mastectomy. The drainage of fluid (lymph) from the arm may already be damaged, and further surgery can lead to persistent swelling. Patients who have repeated infections in the armpit, or suffer from excess sweat formation (axillary hidradenitis), may also not be good candidates for this surgery. For some people, liposuction may be a better way to reduce the thickness of the whole arm.

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What are the most commong benefits of the surgery?

  • A more youthful appearance and thinner contour to the arms.
  • Reduction of flabbiness, extra skin and fat, especially in the upper inner arms.
  • Improved appearance in related folds of skin and fat on the upper chest near the armpit, which are particularly apparent when the arms are down at the sides.
  • Long-lasting results.

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Risks and Limitations?

The most common risks associated with this type of surgery include, but are not limited to, a reaction to the anesthesia used, excessive bleeding, infection, visible scarring, possible asymmetry or irregularities, and possible changes in nerve sensation. Your surgeon should discuss other possible risks with you, such as pulmonary embolism due to the freeing of fat or blood clots into the bloodstream (rare).

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The information on this web site is only intended as an introduction to this procedure and should not be used to determine whether you will have the procedure performed nor as a guarantee of the result. The best method of determining your options is to consult qualified surgeons who are able to answer specific questions related to your situation.

*Disclaimer: Source: According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), nationally in 2010. Most surgeons offer convenient payments plans for this procedure. Cost does not include anesthesia, operating room facility, hospital stay, and other related expenses. Costs may also vary depending on location.

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