Arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a great procedure for patients with significantly loose upper arm skin. Loosened skin may be a result of weight loss or normal aging. This procedure is most beneficial for patients with excess skin as well as fat. An arm lift removes both excess skin and fat, leaving the upper arms with a tighter contour. In some instances, liposuction can be used alone or in conjunction with an arm lift to further remove excess fat in the upper arms.

Good candidates for this procedure:

arm lift
  • Bariatric patients that underwent massive weight loss resulting in excess arm skin

  • Patients who desire more contoured arms

  • Patients who do not have excess fat but have excess skin

What to expect: Consultation

All cosmetic consultations are complimentary and serve as a great opportunity to gain further insight by voicing your concerns and having questions answered. During the initial consultation, Dr. Hsu will ask some questions to get to know you and determine if you are a good candidate for an arm lift.

During the consultation, Dr. Hsu will first ask about the area in question, and determine what kind of goals you have for your arms after surgery. This will include an assessment of whether there are any functional problems associated with the excess arm skin. He will also ask about your medical history, including existing medical conditions, past surgeries, tobacco usage, daily medications, supplements, and allergies. If he determines that you are a good candidate for the procedure, Dr. Hsu will explain the next steps in going forth with the procedure. In order to reach your aesthetic goal, both you and Dr. Hsu will work together to decide all the necessary details that will ultimately give you the best results.

Surgery Details:

On the day of surgery, arrive early to fill out paperwork, meet the anesthesiologist, and be prepared for surgery. Dr. Hsu will meet you in the pre-operative area before surgery to make markings on the areas planned for surgery and answer any last minute questions you may have.

This surgery is for bariatric and non-bariatric patients. Dr. Hsu will pinch the skin to determine exactly where there is excess skin and fat. Based on this, he will create an incision that is inconspicuously hidden on the inner (medial) arm. He will tighten the skin to improve the contour while also preventing the scar from widening or having difficulties healing. He will only cut skin and fat, leaving the muscles and nerves untouched.

Recovery & Post-operative Instructions:

After the surgery, Dr. Hsu will wrap dressings around the surgical area which will remain there for the first week during healing. Most importantly, you should keep the surgical area dry until Dr. Hsu gives his approval to shower. To clean the rest of your body, you can bathe from the chest down. Dr. Hsu will usually remove stitches during your first week follow up appointment. Swelling & bruising will peak about 48 hours after surgery but will then decrease significantly in the first two weeks. Most patients can return to work after two weeks, but many patients return even sooner. The biggest limitation for post-operative patients is driving, which should be avoided while taking pain medication. Patients usually stop taking pain medication after five to seven days and plan their work schedules accordingly. Six weeks is usually an appropriate time to return to most types of exercise and activity.

During the recovery period, we recommend walking within the house several times per day to speed healing and minimize the possibility of developing blood clots. If you have any inquiries after surgery, Dr. Hsu is available 24 hours to address any immediate concerns. For an extended period of time after surgery, Dr. Hsu will maintain regular contact with you to make sure you are healing well. Most follow up appointments are scheduled immediately after surgery for up to a year afterwards.


Dr. Hsu's view on an Arm Lift.

In my experience, arm lift (brachioplasty) is more often done for functional than cosmetic reasons.  Often times, patients who come to me for arm lift are those who have lost a lot of weight, either through diet and exercise or through weight loss.  In these patients, the excess skin can actually interfere with exercise (I have even had one patient who told me that while she was doing her kick-boxing classes, her excess skin under her arms would hit her chest and neck and hurt her!).  Removing the excess skin can then be a really great goal, because it helps the patient to get back to an active lifestyle and can improve quality of life.

I actually do not often recommend this procedure when done for purely cosmetic reasons, except for patients in whom the skin excess is very dramatic.  In the right patient, with dramatic skin excess, the arm lift procedure can definitely help appearance.  But I’ve found that for many patients who only have a little bit of excess skin, it is not worth having the scar in order to obtain some minimal/moderate benefit in arm contour.  For these patients, some of them are reasonable candidates for liposuction, if there is some excess fat that can be removed, since that can sometimes tighten the skin to some degree as well.

Therefore, I tend to reserve this procedure for patients who have dramatic skin excess, and in these patients, the results can be very satisfying!  As with all plastic surgery, it comes down to assessing each individual patient, to see if the procedure is a good fit for them.