Arm Lift

Procedure time

2 to 3 hours

Overnight stay

1 – 2 night


General or local with sedation

Final results

6 – 9 months

An arm lift is becoming an increasingly popular procedure amongst men and women who are looking to improve the appearance of their arms. 

The medical term for an arm lift is “brachioplasty”. It is a surgical procedure that can tone the upper arms by removing excess skin or fat. 

The procedure can also tighten the underlying supportive tissues of the arms. 

This arm lift overview gives a good introduction to the procedure.

What can an arm lift achieve?

An arm lift aims to reduce the amount of excess skin and fat in the upper arms, in order to create a more aesthetically pleasing arm shape.

 It also aims to tighten and smooth the underlying supportive tissue allowing a new defined shape of the upper arm. 

This method particularly targets stubborn fat that cannot you cannot remove through exercise and diet alone. 

If you have a lot of excess fat in the upper arms, your surgeon may also use liposuction to aid the contouring of the arms.
You may choose to have an arm lift if you are looking to boost your self-esteem and remove:

  • Excess skin after major weight loss
  • Drooping skin as a result of aging or heredity
  • Excess fat deposits and cellulite
Why have an arm lift?

The upper arms tend to droop down and sag after significant weight loss, aging or due to genetics. This can make some people feel very self-conscious and unable to wear clothing that exposes their upper arms. People often find that this excess skin is difficult to lose through exercise and a healthy diet alone, and therefore choose to have an arm lift to correct it.
An arm lift can:

  • Re-define the upper arm, by tightening and smoothening the underlying tissue
  • Remove excess drooping skin after significant weight loss
  • Remove small pockets of fat in the upper arm
  • Boost your self-esteem
  • Create more youthful appearing arms that better complement the rest of your body.

Despite this, it is important to be aware that arm lift surgery is not a method to be used for weight loss. It is only for people who have tried to reach their optimal weight, and as a result, have excess skin or stubborn fat.
If you are thinking about having an arm lift procedure, you can increase your suitability for surgery by optimising your health. Therefore, doing regular exercise, reducing alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet and stopping smoking, will improve your suitability for surgery.

How is an arm lift procedure performed?

The arm lift procedure usually takes between 90 to 120 minutes. It may be done as a day case, but is more commonly an overnight stay in hospital. Before you come in for your arm lift, you must follow your surgeon’s instructions for eating, drinking and taking medications the night before your surgery. It is essential that you follow this guidance or your surgeon will cancel your surgery.
An arm lift surgery involves the following steps:

1. Consent form

You will have to sign a consent form before having your surgery. You will sign this either on the day of your surgery or during your pre-operative assessment a week before. After you sign your consent form, your surgeon will draw some lines on your arms, and discuss the goals of the arm lift.

2. Anaesthesia

Your anaesthetist will then give you the anaesthetic. For an arm lift,  you can either have a general anaesthetic or local anaesthetic with IV (intravenous) sedation. The type of anaesthetic you are given will depend on your surgeon’s practice. You and your surgeon will discuss which anaesthetic to use during your first consultation.

3. Incisions

After your anaesthetist gives you your anaesthetic, the surgeon will clean and put drapes over the treatment area before making the incisions.
The incisions for a brachioplasty can either be made in the armpit or along the back of the arm. These positions allow your surgeon to conceal these scars well. There are three types of incisions that your surgeon can use: 

Mini brachioplasty (minimal incision)

For a mini brachioplasty, your surgeon will make a single incision in the shape of a crescent under the armpit. The surgeon may, however, extend the incision into the arm. This is a T-line lift.
This technique is most suitable for people with minimal excess skin and fat in the uppermost region of the arm.
A mini brachioplasty results in a smaller amount of scarring than a standard brachioplasty. Your surgeon will hide the scar well within the armpit. However, the results are only effective in patients with minimal excess skin and fat.

Standard brachioplasty (inner arm incision) 
This technique involves making two separate incisions:

  1. Inner arm incision – this goes from the armpit to just above the elbow, between the biceps and triceps.
  2. Back of the arm incision– this goes from the armpit to just above the elbow along the tricep region.

It is most suitable for those with a moderate amount of excess skin and fat. Your surgeon will remove the excess skin and fat, then tighten and reshape the underlying tissues.
The scar is well hidden when the arms are held at the side, and this technique is thought to achieve a better result.

Extended Brachioplasty

The incision for an extensive brachioplasty runs from the elbow, through the armpit, and into the side of the chest.
After your surgeon makes the incision, they will remove excess skin and fat, then tighten the underlying tissues. They will either remove the excess fat directly, or use liposuction to remove it.
As this technique results in maximal scarring that extends to the side of the chest, surgeons do not often use it.

Your surgeon will discuss the different techniques and suggest which one will achieve the best results for your body. Your Avrupamed surgeon’s choice will depend on a number of factors including the amount of excess skin and fat in the upper arms.

4. Closing the incisions

Your surgeon will close the incisions using external stitches. They will then wrap a tight bandage around your upper arms. You may also have some small drainage tubes put under the skin to help reduce swelling and bruising. Usually, you surgeon will remove these drains before you go home.

5. Return to the ward

After your arm lift procedure, you will be take to the ward to recover from the anaesthetic. You will either be able to go home on the same day but it is likely that you will have to spend one night in hospital following the procedure. You should be able to go home to rest the next day.

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