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Arm Lift - Brachioplasty 

An arm lift (brachioplasty) is a cosmetic surgery procedure to remove fat and/or sagging skin under the upper arm to create a firmer toned appearance.  The upper arms can become droopy or flabby looking because of increasing age, weight changes, and heredity.  An arm lift is appropriate for people who despite exercise, may still be bothered by loose hanging skin between their armpit and elbow.  With healthy living, the results of an arm lift are relatively permanent.

Arm lift procedures use surgery, liposuction, or both to remove excess fat deposits beneath the skin.  Excess skin is removed and the tissues are tightened to create a toned appearance.  The procedure will leave a scar which may be limited to the armpit or may extend along more medial (or inner) aspect of the upper arm possibly to the elbow. The position of the scar would be placed in such a way to make the scar the least noticable.

You will have an initial consultation with your doctor prior to your procedure.  Your doctor will evaluate your upper arms.  You should discuss your concerns and expectations. Your doctor will perform a general health evaluation. It is common for “before” photos to be taken for your medical records. You will need to stop smoking before your surgery.  Please address length of time for cessation of smoking with your surgeon.  Some medications should be temporarily discontinued prior to surgery. 

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Arm lift procedures may be performed at an accredited plastic surgeon’s outpatient surgical facility, hospital, or outpatient surgery center.  It can be an outpatient procedure or require a short hospital stay, depending on the extent and areas of treatment.  The necessary anesthesia will be chosen in concert with your doctor and anesthesia provider.  You should plan to have someone drive you home and stay with you for the first night.

Your surgeon will use a pre-determined pattern of treatment.  An incision will be made between your elbow and armpit on the inner side or back of the arm.  The length of the incision depends on the extent of the treatment you will be receiving.  Fatty deposits are removed surgically, with liposuction, or both.  Sutures are placed inside the arm tissue to tighten and reshape it.  The incision is closed with sutures.  In some cases, temporary drainage tubes are placed under the skin to help prevent fluids from collecting under the skin.  At the end of the procedure, the upper arm is bandaged and may be wrapped in a compression garment to help reduce swelling.

You may initially experience some bruising and swelling.  You will be provided with specific aftercare instructions and should avoid excessive motion or force while you are healing.  As your swelling resolves, your new look is immediately apparent and will continue to improve.  You can help maintain your new toned arms by maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.

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This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.

The iHealthSpot patient education library was written collaboratively by the iHealthSpot editorial team which includes Senior Medical Authors Dr. Mary Car-Blanchard, OTD/OTR/L and Valerie K. Clark, and the following editorial advisors: Steve Meadows, MD, Ernie F. Soto, DDS, Ronald J. Glatzer, MD, Jonathan Rosenberg, MD, Christopher M. Nolte, MD, David Applebaum, MD, Jonathan M. Tarrash, MD, and Paula Soto, RN/BSN. This content complies with the HONcode standard for trustworthy health information. The library commenced development on September 1, 2005 with the latest update/addition on April 13th, 2016. For information on iHealthSpot’s other services including medical website design, visit