Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

Brachioplasty is surgery that addresses skin laxity often left over following weight loss. There are a number of techniques that may be used.

Liposuction Alone: This is usually in the upper inner arm. If you have good skin tone and mostly just excess fat, then removal of fat alone is sufficient. Your skin will then shrink down around this newly reduced framework.

Liposuction with Arm Lift: This is used in cases involving a significant amount of excess skin. Liposuction is often performed first (there is usually some excess fat present), then an incision, designed as short as possible, runs for some length between the elbow and armpit to remove the excess skin, mold and shape the arms, and tighten up the armpit that was drooping.

After weight loss it can remain difficult to wear clothing that reveals the arms. Patients are often very self-conscious of shape and size of the excessive skin that can hang from the arms. Furthermore, this can be uncomfortable. The surgical solution is arm-contouring surgery, also known as brachioplasty.

In general the excess skin is mostly localized to the upper inner arms. It can also be present in other areas, such as sagging in the armpit or along the side of the chest. The anatomy of concern in this case is just basically that of excess fat, excess skin, or both to differing degrees. The relationships among the amount of excess skin, skin elasticity, and excess fat is what determines the surgical intervention.

Arm definition is created by careful liposuction combined, if indicated, with skin removal. There are a number of different techniques that are used that vary from removing skin in the upper arm alone to removing skin from the entire length of the upper arm. You chosen surgeon will explain to you the the most appropriate technique to suit your needs.

Arm reduction is performed under general anaesthesia and therefore you won’t be able to eat or drink for about six hours before the operation.

Detailed instructions will be provided by the hospital on exactly what you should and should not do before surgery. The procedure usually takes around 1-2 hours and depending on the time of the operation and overnight stay.

In terms of follow up, the following guidelines are generalised and your surgeon will often vary these to match your individual needs.

In general:

  • Most patients who have a arm reduction (brachioplasty) are back to work within one week
  • You will need to avoid rigorous exercise for six weeks after surgery
  • You will need to wear a supportive garment for two weeks during the day
  • You can expect to be able to drive within one week

Frequently asked questions

When can I return to normal activities?

Most patients are able to resume their daily routines within two weeks. It takes about four to six weeks to return to your exercise regimen

What are the common risks?

The risks are similar to most major operations. They include wound healing issues, poor scarring, bleeding, infection, and seroma (fluid collection) formation. As always when dealing with two sides of the body, there is a risk of asymmetry. Your surgeon will carefully explain all of these risks to you in your pre-operative consultation.

Will there be scarring?

There is scarring associated with all body contouring procedures. Many surgeons and patients believe this is the biggest downside to an arm lift. As described above there are different techniques that can be applied. If simple liposuction is used then the scars will be very small. In a full arm lift however, the scar runs from the armpit to the elbow. In the armpit there is also a smaller vertical component. It is placed along the inside of the arm. However, it can still be visible in short sleeve shirts when the arm is raised. In the short-scar arm lift, the scar is a curved line that can be hidden in the armpit.


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