about-image

An arm lift, sometimes called an brachioplasty, is a type of cosmetic surgery. It treats sagging underarms by reducing extra skin, tightening and smoothing tissue, and removing extra fat. This can make your upper arms look more toned and defined.

Aging and genetics both play a role in the development of sagging skin. You might also be left with extra skin after losing a lot of weight. Regardless of what’s causing your sagging skin, there are several things to keep in mind when considering an arm lift.

The arm lift procedure

On the day of your surgery, your doctor starts by marking your arm where they plan to make incisions. There are several ways of performing an arm lift, but the most common ones involve incisions on the inside or back your arms. Other options include an armpit incision or one that extends from the top of your elbow to your armpit.

You’re then given either local or general anesthesia, depending on the surgical method your doctor chooses. Guided by the marks they made on your arm, your doctor goes in and tightens or reshapes the tissue in your upper arm. They then pull your skin back over the tissue and close the surgical wound with stitches.

If there are extra pockets of fat that might make it hard for your arm to fully heal, your doctor may use liposuction at the same time to remove that fat. The entire procedure is usually done within three hours.

After having surgery, you’ll need someone to drive you home from the appointment and stay with you overnight to make sure you don’t have any problems.

Arm lift risks

Like all surgeries, an arm lift comes with some risks. In addition to pain and infection, you might also have:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Permanent scarring
  • Fluid buildup
  • Nerve, muscle, or blood vessel damage
  • Fatty tissue death

General anesthesia also carries its own risks, including:

  • Confusion
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart Attack
  • Stroke
  • Death in rare cases

Recovering from an arm lift

While you recover from surgery, you might need to wear a compression garment to control swelling. Your doctor might also insert a temporary drainage tube in your arm to drain any fluid or blood that builds up after surgery.

Your doctor will give you postoperative care instructions to take home. These will cover how to take care of your wounds, which medications to take and when, warning signs to look for, and a timeline for follow-up appointments.

It’s important to also avoid smoking while you recover from an arm lift. Smoking slows down the healing process, which raises your risk of developing permanent scarring or infections.

You should be able to return to work or school and resume some activities within two weeks. Within six weeks, you should be able to return to your normal activity level. Tell your doctor about any pain or problems moving after the initial recovery period.