An arm lift is a cosmetic surgical procedure to improve the appearance of the under portion of your upper arms.
During an arm lift — also known as brachioplasty — excess skin and fat are removed from between the armpit and elbow. The remaining skin is placed back over the newly repositioned contours to create a more toned look.
As you get older, the skin on your upper arms changes — sagging and becoming loose. Significant weight loss also can cause the undersides of your upper arms to droop.
While exercise can strengthen and improve muscle tone in the upper arm, it can't address excess skin that has lost elasticity.
You might choose to have an arm lift if the undersides of your upper arms are sagging. An arm lift might also boost your body image.
An arm lift poses various risks, including:
Like any other type of major surgery, an arm lift poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia.
An arm lift isn't for everyone. Your doctor might caution against an arm lift if you:
Initially, you'll talk to a plastic surgeon about an arm lift. During your first visit, your plastic surgeon will likely:
An arm lift can be done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility.
Sometimes the procedure is done with sedation and local anesthesia, which numbs only part of your body. In other cases, general anesthesia — which renders you unconscious — is recommended.
Your plastic surgeon will make incisions on the undersides of your arms. The length and pattern of the incisions depends on how much skin will be removed.
After making the incisions, the plastic surgeon will tighten your underlying tissues and secure them with stitches. He or she might also use a suction technique to remove fat (liposuction).
Your skin will then be draped over the new contours and excess skin will be removed. Stitches or surgical tape will be used to close the incisions.
After an arm lift, your incisions will be covered in bandages. Your arms will be loosely wrapped in elastic bandages to minimize swelling. Small tubes might be placed in your arms to drain any excess blood or fluid.
You'll likely see someone from your plastic surgery team within a day or two after your arm lift. He or she may remove your bandages and drainage tube if used. Some plastic surgeons may have you wear a compression sleeve for a few weeks to keep swelling down.
In the first few days after an arm lift:
Talk to your doctor about when — or if — your stitches will be removed. Some stitches dissolve on their own. Others must be removed in the doctor's office in the weeks after the procedure.
After an arm lift, contact your doctor immediately if you have:
By removing loose skin, an arm lift can give your upper arms a more toned appearance.
Arm lift results are typically long lasting. Remember, however, your skin will naturally lose some firmness as you age and some sagging might occur. Maintaining a stable, healthy weight can help you retain your results.