An Arm Lift (brachioplasty) is a surgical procedure which removes excess skin and fat from the upper arm. The upper arm can become droopy or flabby from age, for genetic reasons, or after weight loss. The intended result of a brachioplasty is to create a slimmer, more youthful arm contour.


Arm lifts are performed on a wide variety of patients. This includes patients of healthy weight who just need a bit of tightening to achieve their desired arm shape. Most arm lift patients have undergone massive weight loss, leaving the skin on their arms loose for a “bat wing” effect. It is recommended that massive weight loss patients reach a stable weight before this procedure is done. Older women sometimes have droopy upper arms, which are easily corrected with an arm lift. Many arm lift candidates want to wear short-sleeve shirts without feeling self-conscious.


  • The techniques involved in an arm lift depend on the patient. A skilled surgeon must tailor the operation to your needs, which is why it is so important to choose a plastic surgeon who is board certified.
  • Patients with excess fat in the upper arm, but no excess skin, can benefit from liposuction alone.
  • Some patients will need excess skin removed. The placement and length of the incisions must be tailored to the individual to enhance the arm’s natural contour. Patients with a small amount of excess skin higher up the arm, an incision in the arm pit alone can attain the desired contour. Patients with a large amount of excess skin (massive weight loss patients usually fall in this category) may require an incision running from the elbow to the arm pit. Incisions are made in subtle locations to hide scars.
  • An arm lift is typically done under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis.


Right after surgery, the patient’s arms are wrapped in a compression sleeve to minimize swelling. The swelling will reduce over the next 10-14 days as part of the healing process. Bruising and swelling will continue to resolve over the 3-4 weeks following surgery.

Post-operative pain is easily controlled through oral medication for the first few days. Acute pain is generally gone after the first 7-10 days.

Arm lift patients should avoid lifting their arms overhead for a while after the procedure.

The scars on the underside of the arms will fade during the next 6 to 24 months, depending on the patient’s skin. The scar healing process can be hastened with scar treatments available at the Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery.

Following your upper arm lift, the skin contours may be slightly uneven and areas of slight depression or wrinkling can occur. As healing progresses, most of these problems (if present) usually improve dramatically.

Minimal asymmetry of upper arm lift scars occur frequently as healing is not always even from side to side. The mild asymmetry is usually not cosmetically significant. If the asymmetry is significant, revisional surgery of the scars may be considered.


An arm lift is not considered to be a risky procedure; it does not carry any special risks beyond the normal background complications that may arise from any surgery. These general risks of surgery include infection, pain, delayed wound healing, hematoma (a collection of blood at the surgical site), bleeding, asymmetry, or reactions to anesthetic.


To learn whether you are a good candidate for arm lift surgery, or if you have any questions, contact our Newport Beach plastic surgeons today.

Give our office a call at (949) 565-2121.