Arm Lift

Reaching your goal weight is an exciting milestone, but for many men and women who have achieved significant weight loss, it’s not the end of the story. Weight loss can leave behind stretched skin that refuses to spring back and conform to your slimmed-down physique. In the upper arm area, these sagging flaps of tissue are sometimes known as “bat wings.”

Those who maintain a healthy and stable weight can also develop loose arm tissue as a result of heredity or the natural aging process. Exercise can help strengthen the muscles and improve the underlying tone of the upper arm, but it cannot remove localized fat deposits or excess skin that has lost elasticity. Brachioplasty, often called an arm lift, is a surgical procedure that reshapes the underside of the upper arm for more aesthetically pleasing, proportionate and youthful contours.

Who Can Benefit From Arm Lift Surgery?

It may be the right time to consider arm lift surgery if:

  • You have sagging skin and fat that droops between the underarm and the elbow
  • Your skin has lost elasticity due to aging
  • Your loose skin has taken on a “crepey” appearance
  • You have lost a significant amount of weight and have extra arm tissue that does not respond to diet and exercise
  • You are experiencing physical problems such as chafing, rashes and skin irritation due to excess arm skin
  • You feel self-conscious wearing short-sleeved or sleeveless garments

What Happens During Arm Lift Surgery?

Surgeons use multiple techniques to perform arm lift surgery. The technique used for your procedure will be selected based on the elasticity of your skin, the amount of skin and fat to be removed, and your desired aesthetic outcome. Brachioplasty incisions are typically placed on the inside of the arms or on the back of the arms. For patients with a large amount of skin and fatty tissue, a long incision that extends from the armpit to the elbow is usually the most effective technique. For patients with mild to moderate amounts of fat and loose skin, a less invasive technique (“limited incision brachioplasty”) that places incisions in the underarms can achieve good results with less visible scarring.

After marking the incisions, your surgeon will tighten and reshape the underlying tissues of your arm to produce a slimmer and more youthful contour. Excess fat and skin will be surgically removed. Liposuction may also be used to reduce fat in the area. The incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures or stitches that will be removed during a follow-up appointment.

What Can I Expect During Recovery?

After arm lift surgery, bandages or dressings may be applied to your incisions and your arms may be wrapped in a compression garment to minimize swelling. A thin tube may be placed under the skin temporarily to drain excess fluid. It’s normal to experience some bruising, swelling and pain, and vigorous physical activity will be limited for several weeks following surgery. Sleeping with your arms elevated can help reduce swelling. Most patients return to work one week or two weeks after brachioplasty, depending on the level of physical activity required by their job. Scars can be slow to heal. It may be up to a year before your scars mature completely.

What Results Can Arm Lift Surgery Achieve?

Brachioplasty produces smoother, tighter contours immediately following your procedure. As the bruising and swelling subside, your new upper arm contours will reveal themselves and your final results will emerge. Typical arm lift results include:

  • Reduction of loose skin hanging between the armpit and the elbow
  • Reduction of localized pockets of fat in the upper arm
  • A more shapely, proportionate and youthful appearance to the upper arm
  • Increased confidence wearing clothing that exposes the arms

The results of brachioplasty are long-lasting provided you maintain a healthy, stable weight. While your arms will naturally lose firmness and tone as your body ages, you will likely continue to see contouring benefits from your arm lift procedure.

What Risks Are Associated With Arm Lift Surgery?

The decision to have any surgical procedure is extremely personal. Patients considering brachioplasty should be aware that the procedure will involve permanent scars. Depending on the incision technique used, these scars may extend down the full inner arm from the armpit to the elbow. The length of the scar is determined by how much excess skin must be removed to accomplish your goals. Many patients, even those who undergo standard brachioplasty, feel this is a worthwhile trade-off for the benefit of removing excess skin and are satisfied with the results.

What Procedures Complement Arm Lift Surgery?

Liposuction is often performed in conjunction with arm lift surgery. Combining these procedures   can maximize your aesthetic result by removing excess fat via liposuction and eliminating loose, hanging skin with an arm lift. Patients with good skin tone can sometimes achieve satisfactory contouring results from liposuction alone. Patients with significant skin laxity and poor elasticity, however, are unlikely to achieve optimal contour improvement solely through liposuction. Liposuction offers little if any skin tightening effect; if the underlying fat is removed, the excess skin remains and may not “snap back.” Only brachioplasty can address loose, sagging skin.

Is Arm Lift Surgery Right For Me?

The first step to freedom from sagging skin in the upper arms is visiting a board-certified plastic surgeon for a consultation. During this initial appointment, your surgeon will discuss your concerns and evaluate the suitability of the procedure for your goals. In general, candidates for an arm lift have significant upper arm skin laxity, have reached a healthy and stable weight, do not smoke, do not have medical conditions that could increase risk during surgery or impair healing, and have realistic expectations about the results brachioplasty can achieve. Dr. Bazzi will assess your condition and recommend the technique best suited to your needs. Contact the Celestial Institute of Plastic Surgery today at 734-844-5700 to schedule a consultation.