What Is an Arm Lift?

An arm lift, also known as a brachioplasty, is designed to eliminate excess skin that hangs from the upper arm. Sagging skin most often develops on the area that spans from the underarm to the elbow. This common condition can result from the natural aging process, though it may also be exacerbated by significant weight loss. An arm lift can help patients achieve a more toned upper arm and a sleeker silhouette, helping clothes fit better and giving patients a boost in confidence.

To learn more about arm lift surgery and how it can help you achieve your body sculpting goals, please contact The Ottawa Clinic.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Arm Lift Surgery?

The best way to determine your candidacy for an arm lift is to schedule a consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon. However, ideal candidates for arm lift surgery are those in good overall health who maintain realistic expectations about the outcome of their procedure. Patients who have undergone bariatric surgery may choose an arm lift as part of a more comprehensive body lift procedure. Additionally, patients who have excess fat as well as sagging skin in the area between the elbow and the underarm may combine an arm lift with liposuction for a more comprehensive improvement. 

What Is the Arm Lift Procedure Like?

Depending upon the degree of excess skin present, your plastic surgeon will either make a small incision in the axilla (underarm area) or a larger incision along the inside of the arm. During the arm lift procedure, your surgeon will remove any redundant skin before re-draping the remaining skin for a smooth, toned appearance. Our plastic surgeons take care during surgery to conceal the location of the incision as much as possible and use the latest surgical techniques to minimize any visible scarring. When an incision along the inside of the arm is necessary, the resulting scar can not typically be seen when the arms are at rest.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Arm Lift Surgery?

When performed by a skilled and experienced plastic surgeon, severe complications from arm lift surgery are extremely rare. However, much like with any surgical procedure, there are potential risks to be aware of. The attentive surgeons at The Ottawa Clinic are dedicated to taking all of the necessary precautions to minimize the chance of complications arising. Your surgeon will review these considerations with you prior to your procedure, as well. Some possible risks include:

  • Nerve damage
  • Undesirable scarring
  • Skin necrosis
  • Infection
  • Hematoma 
  • Irregular contour in the treatment area 

In addition to following the detailed aftercare instructions provided by your surgeon, refraining from smoking or using other tobacco products can help ensure proper healing and significantly reduce your likelihood of developing health concerns. Our surgeons typically ask patients to stop smoking at least six weeks prior to surgery, and recommend discontinuing use of tobacco products altogether afterwards, if possible. 

How Long Is Recovery After Arm Lift Surgery?

During your recovery from surgery, swelling is normal and can last up to two weeks. Any discomfort experienced during this time can be easily managed with oral pain medication. Mild bruising is also normal, but this side effect should fade quickly. Most arm lift patients resume normal activities within the first week. Our plastic surgeons recommend avoiding exercise and other strenuous activities for about three weeks. To maintain the toning results from arm lift surgery, patients should do their best to keep a stable weight by eating a nutritious diet and exercising regularly.

What Will My Arm Lift Scars Look Like?

The incisions made during arm lift surgery are usually placed strategically along the inside of the arms, extending from the armpit to the elbow. This technique results in scars that typically cannot be seen when the patient has their arms down at their sides, but the particular surgical method used during surgery will ultimately determine what your scars will look like. 

Your surgeon will provide you with some post-surgical instructions that can help encourage proper healing and slight fading of scars. Certain skin creams and protection from sun damage can also help scars fade over time. 

How Much Does Arm Lift Surgery Cost?

The cost of brachioplasty usually begins at $5,000, but the final cost will ultimately be determined by your specific treatment plan. Variables that can affect the overall price of arm lift surgery include the surgeon’s fee, preoperative testing, anesthesia, pain medications, and more. A more accurate and personalized price estimate can be provided during a one-on-one consultation with one of our surgeons, as your unique needs and goals can be taken into account. 
 

Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Arm Lift Surgery

Is arm lift surgery covered by insurance?

Although extremely rare, certain cases may be covered at least partially by insurance if the procedure is deemed “medically necessary.” In your consultation with your plastic surgeon, be sure to inquire about the potential of qualifying for coverage. If you meet the requirements, your surgeon and our staff can work with you to review your benefits and ensure that proper documentation is submitted to your insurance company.  

How can I reduce swelling after arm lift surgery?

Keeping your arms elevated as instructed by your surgeon can help reduce swelling during recovery. Furthermore, you may be asked to wear compression garments, which can also help minimize swelling. Carefully following the post-op instructions provided by your surgeon is the best way to ensure you remain as comfortable as possible throughout recovery. 

When can I resume exercise after arm lift surgery?

Following arm lift surgery, patients should refrain from exercise and other strenuous activities for at least three weeks, or as directed by your surgeon. Specifics regarding certain levels of physical activity can be discussed with your surgeon, prior to the procedure.

Is it possible to tighten sagging arm skin without surgery?

Although arm lift surgery is usually the most effective and long-lasting method for treating loose skin on the arms, some patients may be considered good candidates for non-invasive skin tightening treatments, such as Thermage®. Additionally, patients who have excess fat and mild to moderate skin laxity may be able to tighten their upper arms with a non-surgical option like CoolSculpting®. Based on your individual case, your surgeon can help you determine if a non-surgical treatment can effectively achieve your desired results.

Schedule a Consultation

For more information about arm lift surgery, or to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.