As part of the natural aging process, skin gradually loses its elasticity. As a result, the skin settles into folds and wrinkles. Along the arms, loss of elasticity can lead to hanging skin that may be nicknamed “bat wings.” Weight loss can accentuate this issue. If you wish you had slimmer and more toned looking upper arms, brachioplasty (also known as an ‘arm lift’) may be the right body contouring procedure for you.
Are You a Candidate?
If you are a man or a woman who is self-conscious about the way your arms look, or wearing sleeveless shirts or other clothing that reveals your arms makes you feel uncomfortable, then an arm lift may be right for you.
The vast majority of patients are between the ages of 35 and 65, although patients both younger and older can undergo this procedure. Ideal candidates are nonsmokers in good overall health. They still have some skin elasticity remaining, which helps the skin adjust to its new contours. While the best outcomes tend to be on patients who are at or near an ideal weight, this procedure may also be performed on patients who are overweight.
Procedure: Step-by-Step Guide
Arm lift procedures are performed to remove excess skin and fat deposits from the arms, reducing a flabby appearance and leaving patients with thinner, more youthful-looking arms. The procedure is performed with general anesthesia and usually takes about two hours to perform.
- First, the surgeon will create an incision. Usually, this is located in the armpit, where any resulting scar can be easily hidden. If more extensive fat deposits or excess skin will be removed from the lower arm, the surgeon may need to create a more extensive incision running along the inside of the arm, from wrist to armpit.
- Next, the surgeon will remove the excess skin and deposits of fatty tissue. Most arm lift procedures use traditional surgical methods, although liposuction surgery can also be used if large areas of excess fat are being targeted for removal.
- After the excess tissue has been removed and the remaining tissues have been sculpted by the surgeon, the incision is closed with sutures.
As with all surgical procedures, arm lifts do come with some risks, including negative reactions to anesthesia, blood clots, and infection. After surgery, the skin of the arms may feel as though it is stretched too tight, although this feeling should subside as the tissues become used to their new contours. There is also a risk of visible scarring, particularly in more extensive procedures that require an incision running the length of the arm. Nerve damage that occurs as the surgeon cuts away excess tissue could lead to temporary or permanent numbness or changes in skin sensitivity.
Arm Lift Recovery
Most patients take about a week off from work and other obligations to heal. During the recovery period, your plastic surgeon will require you to wear a compression garment to reduce swelling and provide support for the tissues of the arm. To help the recovery process, keep the arm elevated and avoid heavy lifting for at least a few weeks after surgery. Patients can experience soreness, tenderness, tightness, bruising, swelling, and redness as their arms heal.
What’s the Cost of Arm Lift Surgery?
When it comes to the cost, the average surgeon’s fee for upper arm lift surgery is $3,729. When additional expenses such as the anesthesia and the surgical center are considered, the total cost is around $5,000. In general, arm lift procedures requiring an incision down the length of the arm to target tissues in both the upper and lower arm tend to be more expensive than upper arm surgery performed through an incision in the armpit.
- Arm Lift: Author: John Y S Kim, MD, FACS; Chief Editor: Jorge I de la Torre, MD, FACS
- Brachioplasty: A personal Approach: Sephr Egrari, MD, FACS
- ISAPS: Arm Lift (n.d.)
- Brachioplasty in the Massive Weight Loss Patient (n.d.)