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Arm Lift Surgery (Brachioplasty)

Arm lift surgery is another post-bariatric plastic surgery procedure we offer at our practice. Although it can be an excellent procedure for post-weight loss surgery patients, arm lift can also be ideal for re-sculpting upper arms have formed droopy excess skin and accumulated stubborn fat as a result of aging. Arm lift surgery enhances the contour of your upper arm by removing excess skin and fatty tissue.

In many cases, liposuction techniques are utilized during arm lift surgery to refine the contours of the upper arm, and provide for additional skin tightening effects. Arm lift is commonly combined with other body contouring procedures such as tummy tuck or body lift to achieve more comprehensive figure enhancement.

Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Arm Lift?

If you are a healthy, mentally stable adult with excess skin along the upper arm area as a result of aging or weight loss, you are an excellent candidate for arm lift surgery.

Arm lift surgery is not recommended for:

**Disclaimer: If you are a smoker, you MUST DISCONTINUE smoking a minimum of 4 weeks BEFORE & AFTER SURGERY. A nicotine test will be administered.**

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How is arm lift surgery performed?

Just like in body lift surgery, our plastic surgeon in Sacramento, Dr. Charles Perry, uses a variety of techniques when performing arm lift surgery. Usually, the incision is hidden along the underside of the arm, extending from the elbow to the armpit. The surgeon will then excise extra skin, sometimes performing liposuction to extract fatty tissue from the area. Once an appropriate amount of fat and skin has been removed, the skin is drawn together to create a smooth, taut appearance, and sutures are used to close the incision.

Things to Consider Before Undergoing Arm Lift Surgery

Patients thinking of undergoing arm lift surgery, on its own or as part of body lift surgery, should consider the following:

Results may not last forever

Weight loss or gain, aging, pregnancy, and other circumstances independent of your surgery can affect or erase the effects of the surgery.

Arm lift surgery is not a weight loss method

Like all post-bariatric plastic surgery procedures, arm lift is designed to improve upon the results of weight loss.

You may be disappointed with your surgical results

In rare cases, patients choose to undergo additional surgery to improve the results of their initial arm lift.

Financial responsibilities

Arm lift surgery is a cosmetic procedure not covered by health insurance. You will be responsible for anesthesia costs, medications, hospital fees, and more. If complications develop, you may incur additional costs. However, if a complication poses a risk to your health, insurance may cover hospitalization, anesthesia, and/or secondary surgery.

What Are the Risks of Arm Lift Surgery?

The following is a partial list of complications that can occur as a result of arm lift surgery. While these complications rarely occur, it is best for patients to become educated before they undergo the surgery.

General surgical risks

These include bleeding, infection, and reactions to surgical anesthesia or other surgical materials. Postoperative bleeding may require emergency treatment. Infection is unusual after arm lift surgery, but would require antibiotics or additional surgery to treat.

Changes in skin sensation

Partial or complete loss of skin sensation in the arm, forearm or hand area may occur. Though they usually resolve on their own, it’s possible for numbness to be permanent.

Irregular skin contour

Wrinkling of the skin, depressions, and other irregularities in the arm’s surface may emerge after surgery.


While abnormal scarring is uncommon, it is a possibility. In some cases, scars are a different color than surrounding skin. Abnormal scarring may be treated with additional surgery.


The human body is not symmetrical, and arm surgery may lead to marked asymmetry related to skin tone, uneven healing, bone prominence, fatty deposits, muscle tone, and other factors.

Delayed healing and skin loss

These are risks inherent in body lift and arm lift surgery. Smokers are at a much greater risk for wound disruption, delayed healing, and skin loss, though they can happen to anyone. This complication may lead to a need for frequent dressing changes or further surgery.

Injuries to underlying tissue of the upper arm

During an arm lift, the skin is tightened through superficially located stitches. However, injury to the underlying tissues — including veins, nerves, and arteries to the hand and arm — is possible, and would require hospitalization and additional treatment.

Seroma (fluid accumulation)

This complication is rare, but would require the drainage of the fluid through additional procedures.

Chronic pain

It’s rare, but possible, that nerves can become trapped in the scar tissue created by upper arm surgery, producing chronic pain.

Recurrence of loose skin

As the skin naturally ages and loses its elasticity, loose skin can reappear. Because of this natural slackening, revisional arm lift procedures are common one to two years after the original surgery.

Suture-related problems

In some cases, deep sutures will be used to complete the arm lift surgery and some patients notice them after surgery. Sutures may become visible, poke through the skin, or produce irritation that necessitates their removal.

Complete Pre- and Post-operative Instructions for Arm Lift Patients

To make it easier to have a positive surgical experience and smooth recovery, Dr. Perry has compiled a comprehensive list of pre- and post-surgical instructions for arm lift surgery. Review the instructions before surgery, and print them out so that you can bring them with you on your surgery day.

Arm Lift Instructions (printer-friendly)

*Individual Results May Vary

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