What to Know About Brachioplasty (Arm Lift)

Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 09, 2021

During a brachioplasty procedure, a surgeon removes excess skin and fat from the upper arm, usually between the elbow and armpit. This procedure removes skin that sags down, making your arm appear more toned.

People seek out this surgery if they have sagging arm skin caused by aging, weight loss, weak muscles, or lack of muscle definition.

How Is a Brachioplasty Done?

Before this surgery, you will go under anesthesia or sedation, depending on what your doctor recommends.

Your doctor will make an incision in your upper arm. The exact placement of the incision depends on your specific body and the results you seek. Your doctor will remove the extra skin, and may cut away or use liposuction for any excess fat. Then, your doctor will tighten the underlying supportive tissue before smoothing the remaining skin over your arm. 

Finally, your doctor will close the incision either with dissolving sutures (stitches) or sutures that will be removed in a couple of weeks.

Are You a Good Candidate for an Arm Lift?

An arm lift is a good option if you:

  • Want to reduce the appearance of excess upper arm skin
  • Have a stable weight and don't plan to gain or lose large amounts of weight in the future
  • Are not notably overweight
  • Have a realistic expectation for the potential outcome of this procedure
  • Are a healthy non-smoker

Before an arm lift, your doctor will take a full medical history to make sure you are a good candidate for the procedure. They may order lab tests to make sure you are in good enough health to undergo surgery.

How Much Does an Arm Lift Cost?

In 2020, the average cost of an arm lift was just under $5,000. However, this is only the cost of the surgery itself. There are other additional costs, including fees for anesthesia and the facility where your surgery will take place.

How Do I Prepare for an Arm Lift?

Before any surgical procedure, your doctor will ask you to stop smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of complications during and after surgery. Additionally, smoking can slow recovery times.

Then, they will examine your arms, and take before photos so you can see the difference after the procedure. During this appointment, they will also talk to you about the risks of brachioplasty.

Your doctor may ask you to stop or change certain medications. For example, aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen can increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery.

Another part of preparation is making arrangements for your care while you are recovering. Arrange to have someone pick you up after your surgery. Make sure you have someone to help you as you recover, since you may need assistance with certain activities.

Is Arm Lift Recovery Difficult?

Many people go home the same day as arm lift surgery. However, some people stay in the hospital overnight. 

Your doctor may place a tube underneath your skin during surgery to help the fluid drain. Your doctor will tell you how to care for your incision and tube.

Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

After the surgery, you should avoid strenuous activity or anything that puts too much pressure on your arms.  Most people can go back to doing their normal activities in between 1 and 2 weeks. However, it takes a few weeks to fully recover from this surgery.

What Are the Risks of an Arm Lift?

Every surgery comes with the risk of complications, including:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Unexpected reaction to anesthesia

The specific risks of a brachioplasty include:

  • Scarring at the incision site
  • A difference in the size of your arms
  • Nerve changes and temporary numbness

You can reduce your risk of complications by following your doctor's recovery instructions.

When Will I See the Results of an Arm Lift?

You will see some results from your brachioplasty right after surgery. As the swelling and bruising go down, you will see the full results.

Some people need two surgeries to get their desired results. If it's not perfect after the first time, your doctor may recommend a second surgery.

The results of an arm lift surgery usually last for a long time unless you gain a significant amount of weight or drastically change your lifestyle. Your skin will sag a bit as you age, but the surgery results will stay mostly the same.

Show Sources


American Society of Plastic Surgeons: "How much does an arm lift cost?" ""What are the steps of an arm lift procedure?" "What results should I expect after arm lift surgery?" "Who is a good candidate for arm lift surgery?"

Columbia Surgery: "Arm Lift Surgery (Brachioplasty)."

Johns Hopkins Medicine: "Brachioplasty."

Mayo Clinic: "Arm lift."

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