Brachioplasty, also known as an arm lift, is a surgical procedure that reshapes the upper arms by removing excess skin and fat deposits, typically resulting in smoother, tighter, and more defined arms. The procedure is usually performed on patients who have lost a significant amount of weight or have experienced sagging skin due to natural aging. During the procedure, an incision is made along the upper arm, excess fat is removed and the skin is tightened and sutured back into place. The surgery can be performed under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation, and patients typically experience a few weeks of recovery time.
What to Expect
Brachioplasty can yield immediate results, with the arms appearing smoother and tighter right after the surgery. Although there may be some swelling and bruising, the effects of the procedure are long-lasting as long as patients maintain a relatively stable weight. However, some skin laxity may eventually occur with aging.
During the procedure, the anesthesiologist administers IV sedation or general anesthesia, and a local anesthetic is injected to minimize postoperative pain. An incision is made in the bicep groove or back of the arm, and excess fat may be removed via excision or liposuction. The incision is closed with absorbable sutures that minimize scarring.
Arm Lift Recovery and Aftercare
Most arm lift patients feel fully recovered within six weeks and can return to work within a week, with normal activities and exercises resuming after four to six weeks. After the procedure, we place a small bulb drain that needs to be emptied twice a day to remove excess fluid that may collect around the incision to prevent swelling and promote healing. We also wrap the incision with a compressive wrap or garment for two weeks, except during bathing, and then at night for an additional two weeks to reduce swelling and provide gentle compression. Pain medication is prescribed to help patients feel more comfortable, and ice or heating pads should not be used. Patients should not lift anything over 10 pounds, raise their arms overhead, or perform any strenuous pushing or pulling motions for two weeks. Patients can shower after 48 hours but should avoid baths and submerging their arms in water for at least four weeks. If a patient experiences any symptoms of infection or fever, they should contact their surgeon immediately. To promote better healing, we advise patients not to smoke for at least six weeks after the procedure.
Medical Review: This procedural information has been medically reviewed by plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Brian A. Cripe, M.D.