Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)


An arm lift, also known as brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure performed to remove excess fat and skin from the upper arms to give them a more toned, slimmer appearance. Over time, the soft tissue in the upper arm becomes lax and may begin to droop and sag, resulting in upper-arm skin that appears to hang. Many people are embarrassed by the appearance of sagging upper arms, and seek treatment to restore a slimmer, more youthful appearance.

The arm lift procedure is ideal for a patient who has a significant amount of hanging skin or fat in the upper-arm area, maintains a stable weight and has realistic expectations for surgery. It is also important that the patient be healthy overall, with no major medical conditions that may be affected by surgery.


During the arm lift procedure, Dr. Walden will make an incision, often spanning from the underarm to the elbow, along the inside of the upper arm. Next, she will remove excess fat using liposuction, and then trim and tighten the excess skin and suture it into place. For patients with only a small amount of excess skin, a minimal-incision arm lift procedure, in which a few small incisions are made near the underarm, may be performed. Dr. Walden will determine which procedure is best for you after a physical exam and a discussion of your goals for surgery.

Once fat is removed and skin is tightened, the incision will be closed with sutures that will be absorbed by the body within a week or two. This procedure is performed under local anesthesia with sedation and usually takes one to three hours, depending on the extent of removal required. Patients will be able to return home the same day as surgery.


After an arm lift procedure, patients will likely experience swelling and bruising, as well as mild discomfort that can be managed with pain medication. Drainage tubes may be placed at the incision site to collect any excess blood or fluid for the first few days after surgery. Compression bandages may be worn as well to help promote proper healing.

The results of an arm lift are visible right away, but will continue to improve as swelling and bruising subsides, which usually takes two weeks. Most patients are highly satisfied with the results, and are more than willing to deal with some scarring in exchange for thin, youthful-looking arms. Scars will continue to fade over time and become less and less noticeable.

During your initial consultation with us, we will discuss your goals and the steps of the procedure. We will ask you about any drug allergies you have, medical conditions, and treatments you have undergone. Let us know about any medications you take. Make sure to include supplements, vitamins, and the average amount of alcohol you drink. If you have had previous surgeries, tell us about them. 

We will also evaluate your overall health, consider any risk factors, and offer treatment options to help you achieve your goals. Expect to hear about how to prepare for the procedure, possible risks, side effects, and information on the recovery process. 

What Should I Avoid Before My Arm Lift Procedure?

Before an arm lift, you need to avoid certain medications. Stop taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, homeopathic drugs, and herbal supplements for two weeks before surgery to minimize bleeding. 

If you smoke, you have to stop two weeks before surgery. This includes stopping any products that contain nicotine, such as snuff, chewing tobacco, Nicorette gum, and nicotine inhalers. Smoking can increase your chances of developing an infection and can slow your recovery process. 

The week before surgery, avoid alcohol, including wine and beer. Do not schedule any other type of surgery for six weeks before or after an arm lift. You also need to stop eating and drinking 12 hours before surgery. This includes water and gum.

Are My Arm Lift Results Permanent?

The results of an arm lift can last a decade or more but are not permanent. As you age, sagging can still occur. To ensure you enjoy toned arms for longer, maintain a healthy lifestyle and stable weight. You also want to follow proper scar care to ensure the surgery scars are minimal. Make sure you follow the instructions on using a compression garment on your arms for three to six weeks after surgery to help your arm heal correctly.

What Should I Not Do After an Arm Lift?

After an arm lift, you should decrease your activity level. For the first two weeks, limit the use of your arms and prevent excess motions, abrasions, or force on the incisions. Avoid strenuous exercise for six weeks after surgery. You want to wear comfortable clothes that open in the front so you do not have to lift your arms over your head as you heal. 

It’s important to limit sun exposure to the incision area so that scars do not darken. You also want to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol so that you can heal more rapidly. Consult with us about beginning to take supplements and vitamins again. 

Is an Arm Lift Covered by Insurance?

Most insurance companies do not cover an arm lift because it is a cosmetic procedure. If you have limited arm functionality or have skin fold infections, however, there may be exceptions. Speak with your insurance provider to find out more about your coverage.



Although an arm lift is considered a safe procedure, there are certain risks associated with any type of surgery. These may include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Reaction to anesthesia
  • Loss of sensation
  • Scarring
  • Permanent swelling

Dr. Walden will discuss these risks with you, as well as address any concerns you may have, prior to surgery.


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