Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

Quick Summary
Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
Procedure Length
1-3 hours
General or local with IV sedation
Pain, bleeding, infection, contour irregularities, scarring
Arm Lift Recovery
Back to work 1 week. Strenuous activities 3-4 weeks
Side Effects
Temporary discomfort, swelling, bruising
Final Results
1-2 months
Duration of Results
Long lasting depending on skin elasticity and weight fluctuations
Average Cost
The average cost of arm lift surgery is between $5,000 and $8,000.

What is an arm lift?

As part of the natural aging process, skin gradually loses its elasticity. As a result, the skin settles into folds and wrinkles. Along the underside of the upper arm, loss of elasticity can lead to hanging skin that has the unflattering nickname “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 a procedure for you. Brachioplasty is one of the most rapidly growing body contouring surgeries that involves surgically removing excessive skin and/or body fat from the upper arm to reshape and contour the area.

Arm Lift Surgery Before After Photo

Arm Lift Surgery

Cost of arm lift surgery

The average cost of arm lift surgery is between $5,000 to $8,000. There are several factors that can affect the cost of your tummy tuck procedure. Here are some of the top factors that influence cost.

  • Surgeon’s Fee: The experience and reputation of the arm lift surgeon performing your procedure can affect the cost. Highly skilled surgeons often charge a premium for their services.
  • Anesthesia Fees: The administration of anesthesia involves the expertise of an anesthesiologist. The type of anesthesia used, the duration of the procedure, and the qualifications of the anesthesia provider influence the anesthesia fees. General anesthesia is typically more expensive than local anesthesia with sedation.
  • Surgical Facility: The surgical facility where your arm lift is being performed may impact the cost. These fees cover the usage of the operating room and other associated services.
  • Location Matters: The cost of living and the average pricing for medical services in a particular area can affect the cost of your procedure. In general, urban areas tend to have higher procedure fees.
  • Type of Arm Lift: The extent of your arm lift procedure will impact cost such as the extent of correction required, the amount of excess skin and fat to be removed.
  • Pre and Postoperative Care: The care provided before and after affects the overall cost. This includes preoperative consultations, medical tests, surgical garments, prescription medications, and follow-up appointments.
  • Additional Procedures: You may incur extra costs if you’re considering having other procedures alongside your arm lift procedure
  • Insurance Coverage: In certain cases, your arm lift may be covered by insurance if it is deemed medically necessary. In these instances, insurance providers may cover a portion of the procedure. However, insurance coverage can vary, and specific criteria must be met to qualify for coverage.

If you are considering arm lift surgery, setup a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. This will allow you to discuss your aesthetic goals and gain a thorough understanding of the specific cost breakdown and factors that pertain to your individual case.

Is the cost covered by insurance?

Arm lift surgery is typically seen as a cosmetic procedure, and it’s not something that health insurance usually covers. Insurance companies generally consider arm lifts to be elective surgeries done for aesthetic reasons rather than medical necessities.

However, there could be exceptions in certain situations where the excess skin on your arms is causing real problems. For instance, if that extra skin is making it hard to do everyday activities, causing skin issues like rashes or infections, then insurance might be a possibility.

If you think your arm lift could be medically necessary and potentially eligible for insurance coverage, you’ll likely need to gather some proof. This could include medical records, photographs, statements from healthcare professionals, and a detailed explanation of how the excess arm skin is affecting your daily life or health.

To get a clear idea of what’s covered and any costs you might have to cover yourself, it’s wise to talk to both your plastic surgeon and your insurance provider. The plastic surgeon’s office may be able to assist you with insurance-related questions and help guide you through the insurance process.

Remember, even if insurance doesn’t cover it, some surgeons offer financing options or payment plans to make the procedure more manageable in terms of cost.

Are you a candidate?

If you are self-conscious about the way your upper arms look due to excess skin, or wearing sleeveless shirts or other clothing that reveal your arms makes you feel uncomfortable, then an arm lift may be right for you.

Arm lifts are generally applicable to people who have lost a huge amount of weight, or have a condition known as “lipodystrophy” (abnormal body-fat distribution) and are left with a lot of excessive skin dangling from their upper arm (“bat wings”). The amount of excess skin present and your desired outcome will determine the type of brachioplasty procedure that will be chosen.

Ideal candidates are non-smokers 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 people who are at or near their ideal weight, this procedure may also be performed on those who are still overweight.

What happens during the procedure

An arm lift aims to reshape the upper arms by removing excess skin and fat and tightening the underlying tissues. The specific technique used may vary depending on the patient’s unique needs and the surgeon’s preferences, but generally, the procedure involves the following steps:

  1. Anesthesia: The surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep and pain-free during the procedure. In some cases, local anesthesia with sedation may be used instead.

    Arm LIft Procedure

    Arm Lift Procedure Markings

  2. Incision placement: The surgeon will make incisions on the inner side or back of the upper arms. The length and pattern of the incisions will depend on the amount of excess skin to be removed and the desired outcome. The incisions are strategically placed to minimize visible scarring.
  3. Tissue removal: Through the incisions, the surgeon will remove excess skin and fat from the upper arms. In some cases, liposuction may be performed to further contour the arms and remove excess fat deposits.
  4. Tissue tightening: After the excess skin and fat have been removed, the underlying supportive tissues, including the underlying muscles, may be tightened and reshaped to achieve a more toned appearance.
  5. Incision closure: Once the necessary adjustments have been made, the incisions are carefully closed using sutures or surgical staples. The incisions may be layered with deep sutures to support the underlying tissues and minimize tension on the surface closure.
  6. Dressing & compression garment: The surgeon will apply a dressing to the incision sites to protect them and promote healing. A compression garment may also be placed on the arms to reduce swelling and support the newly contoured shape.
  7. Recovery & post-operative care: After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery area where you will be closely monitored as you wake up from anesthesia. The surgeon will provide instructions on how to care for your incisions, manage discomfort, and gradually resume normal activities.

How long will recovery take?

Instructions for after-care may vary slightly from surgeon to surgeon, and depend on the exact type of procedure used, whether other procedures were done concurrently, and how well you are doing post-operatively.

Arm Lift Surgery Recovery Compression Garment

Arm Lift Surgery Recovery Compression Garment Photo courtesy of

Immediately following the surgery, the physician will place steri-strips (small pieces of medical tape) over the wound to assist with closure, as well as a bolero-type compression garment. The steri-strips are kept in place for two weeks, and then are replaced with Micropore brown tape for one more week. The surgeon will follow your wound healing and scar formation carefully, and may recommend special silicone tape and/or spray and compression for another four months.

You will likely be instructed to avoid bending your elbow for the first 24 hours, and to avoid strenuous activity for two weeks. Swelling all the way down the arm is almost certain, so you should avoid wearing rings or any other tight clothing or jewellery for at least the first two weeks, or until the swelling resolves.

Keeping your arm raised and frequently massaging the fluid from your arm will help reduce the swelling. Most patients take at least a week off work and other obligations to heal, but this depends on the level of activity that their job requires and how well they are healing.

It is common to experience soreness, tenderness, tightness, bruising, swelling, and redness as the arms heal, so you should plan your activities accordingly.

Will you have scars after surgery?

Some patients considering arm lift surgery are concerned about any potential scarring associated with the procedure. It’s important to understand, the surgical technique required will vary by patient, depending on how much skin and fat needs to be removed. For patients that have good skin tone or mild sagging might only require minor incisions, also known as a mini arm lift.

A more moderate to severe cases of loose, hanging skin and fat will likely require a full upper arm lift. This type of procedure requires a longer incision that may lead from the armpit to the elbow.

Arm lift surgery, like most procedures that involve incisions, will leave scars. Regardless of what type of technique is needed for each patient’s arm lift surgery, most plastic surgeons are conscientious about the placement of the incision to give their patients the best outcome with minimal scarring.

When will you see results?

In general, around 6 weeks after surgery most of the major swelling subsides and you will start to see what your final results will like like. The results will continue to improve over the next several months as the tightened arm skin continues to heal and settle.

Safety information

As with any surgical procedure, arm lifts include some risks and potential side effects. Some possible complications include:

  • Infection
  • Hypertrophic scarring (raised, enlarged scar)
  • Wound re-opening and delayed healing
  • Asymmetry between the arms
  • Skin laxity recurrence
  • Nerve damage

After surgery, the skin of the arms may feel as though it is stretched too tight; however, this feeling should subside as the tissues become used to their new contours.

Before undergoing surgery, speak with your plastic surgeon about all the potential risks and side effects associated with arm lift surgery.

Related procedures

Two thirds of people who have a brachioplasty also have other procedures done concurrently, while they are already under an anesthetic. The procedures most commonly combined with an arm lift are: