What is an arm lift?
An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that reshapes the upper arms by reducing excess skin, and in some cases fat, resulting in smoother skin and better-proportioned contours of the upper arms.
Fluctuations in weight, growing older, and heredity can cause your upper arms to have a drooping, sagging appearance. This is a condition that cannot be corrected through exercise.
Arm lift surgery may be right for you if the underside of your upper arms are sagging or appear loose and full due to excess skin and fat. It can tighten and improve the contour of the upper arms. Sometimes it may be used in conjunction with liposuction to target both excess fat deposits in the arms and also address the excess skin elasticity with skin excision.
Why have brachioplasty surgery?
Common goals or arm lift surgery include:
- Reduce excess sagging skin that droops downward when arms are extended away from the body
- Tighten and smooth the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm
The conditions treated with an arm lift may develop in both men and women, most often due to a loss of elasticity in the skin and underlying tissue of the upper arm. This may be the result of significant weight loss and skin that has been so stretched it loses the ability to retract. Conditions may also result from the natural changes that occur with aging, heredity or a combination of these conditions.
An arm lift cannot correct weakened muscles of the upper arm; in fact many individuals who seek surgery are relatively fit individuals who are bothered by a condition that cannot be corrected through exercise.
before and after brachioplasty with Dr Sharp: this patient had a full body makeover including breast reduction, arm lift (brachioplasty), abdominoplasty and thigh lift surgery to remove excess skin after massive weightloss, while reducing back pain and skin irritations.
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before and after brachioplasty with Dr Sharp: this patient had a breast reduction and arm lift to create a lifted, more balanced upper body shape, while reducing back pain and skin irritations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is an arm lift right for me?
Arm lift surgery is an individualised procedure and may not be suitable for everyone
Arm lifts are not intended strictly for the removal of excess fat. Liposuction alone can remove excess fat deposits where skin has good elasticity and is able to naturally conform to new body contours. In cases where skin elasticity is poor, a combination of liposuction and arm lift techniques may be recommended.
In general, good candidates for an arm lift are:
- Adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable and who are not significantly overweight
- Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery
- Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic goals for what an arm lift can accomplish
- Individuals committed to leading a healthy lifestyle of proper nutrition and fitness
- You have excess soft tissue along the upper arm region
What is involved in brachioplasty surgery?
As part of your pre-operative consultation process, Dr Sharp will discuss the location options for your arm lift procedure. In some cases, it can be performed as a day case, meaning you will return home on the same day - with 24/7 access to post-operative support. Or you may choose to have the procedure as an inpatient, with an overnight stay.
An arm lift procedure includes the following steps:
Step 1 - Anaesthesia
Brachioplasty surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic with a specialist anaesthetist meaning you will be completely asleep and feel nothing during surgery.
Step 2 - The procedure
The procedure begins with an incision placed in the inside of the upper arm. The incision may extend from the underarm to the elbow, or be more limited in length. Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed.
If fat will be reduced during your arm lift, it will be excised or treated with liposuction techniques. The underlying supportive tissues are tightened and reshaped with internal sutures.
Step 3 - Closing the incisions
The overlying skin is then smoothed over the new contour of your arm, with excess skin reduced. Your incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures or stitches that will be removed within one to two weeks following your arm lift.
Step 4 - See the results
The smoother, tighter contours that result from brachioplasty are apparent almost immediately following your procedure, although there will likely be swelling and bruising.
Arm lift recovery
During your recovery from arm lift surgery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and your arms may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling following surgery. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid.
You will also be instructed to avoid lifting or bearing any weight on your arms for several days to weeks. Your surgeon may also advise you to limit your range of motion until internal healing is complete.
You will be ready to return to work and light, normal activities within a few days, as long as you do not engage in any lifting or vigorous exercise. Follow all instructions carefully — this is essential to the success of your outcome.
Your incisions will heal within 7 to 14 days, after which time sutures will be removed if necessary. Additional healing will continue for many weeks as swelling resolves and incision lines continue to improve. Numbness and a firm feeling over the skin’s surface will resolve over time. You must practice diligent sun protection until the healing process is fully completed or skin in the treated area may develop irregular pigmentation and scars may become raised, red or dark. It may take a year or more following a given procedure for incision lines to refine and fade to some degree.
Dr Sharp will give you specific instructions on post-operative care. These instructions will include:
- How to care for your surgical sites following surgery
- Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection
- Specific concerns to look for at the surgical sites or in your general health
- Your post operative appointments
How to maintain your results
Healthy nutrition and regular physical activity, including core strength exercises and practicing good posture, are integral to obtaining and maintaining optimal long-term brachioplasty results.
Dr David and his team can also medically support your results after arm reduction surgery through the nonsurgical treatments he offers, including Fraxel scar reduction.
Contact our experienced clinicians on 3202 4744 to find out what’s possible for you.
Arm lift results and expectations
It is important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing.
The smoother, tighter contours that result from arm lift surgery are apparent almost immediately following your procedure. Initial results will be obscured by swelling and bruising, and a scar will remain where the incision was made.
The dramatic improvement in arm contour following arm lift surgery can greatly enhance your body image. A smooth, toned arm that matches your body image and personal goals does, however, come with visible scars. This is a fair trade-off to achieving a body contour that matches your body weight and proportion.
The results of arm lift will be long-lasting, provided that you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness. However, most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.
Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary. Even if you have a normal body weight, good diet and active lifestyle, it can be difficult to achieve smooth, toned upper arms. Genetics plays a role in where our bodies store fat, and the upper arms can be a common place for lose skin and fat to impact the aesthetic appearance, particularly in strapless or armless clothing.
Significant weight fluctuations after brachioplasty surgery can impact upon the results, so maintaining healthy nutrition habits and exercising is an important part of ensuring you get the best out of your results for as long as possible.
How do I choose my surgeon?
Tummy tuck surgery is very safe and performed frequently by plastic surgeons in Brisbane. However it is a major procedure – and therefore, choosing the right surgeon is of utmost importance. Abdominoplasty surgery should be performed by a qualified plastic surgeon who is registered as a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons. You can confirm your surgeon’s credentials here
Dr David Sharp is a qualified plastic surgeon with a special interest in reconstructive and cosmetic plastic surgery. His personalised approach means that you receive plenty of preoperative time with him to discuss your specific body goals and any questions.
It’s normal to feel both nervous, and an excited sense of anticipation when planning your tummy tuck. Dr David takes the time to ensure you have as many consultations as you require, to ensure your treatment is customised to suit your body and expectations – and address any concerns you may have.
Arm reduction risks and complications
Like any surgery, you must weigh up whether the benefits out way the risks for you. While brachioplasty surgery is common, it also carries risks. Your pre-operative consultations with Dr Sharp will enable him to discuss potential complications with you, and help you determine whether the surgery is right for you
Arm lift surgery risks include:
- Anesthesia risks
- Poor wound healing
- Unsightly scarring
- Fluid accumulation (seroma)
- Damage to deeper structures such as nerves, blood vessels and muscles
- Fatty tissue under the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Pain, which may persist
- Sutures may not absorb, but spontaneously surface through the skin, causing irritation, drainage and redness
- Possible need for revisional surgery
Complications are rare, and Dr Sharp and his team manage each of these risks with the upmost care to further reduce the likelihood of them occurring. In the event they do occur, most can be treated quickly and easily with prompt intervention.
Everyone’s body responds differently to surgery. In some cases, post-operative revision surgery might be required.
Some factors, such as weight, poor nutrition, lifestyle or health problems can increase the chance of a complication occurring. Dr Sharp will take time to learn about your potential risk factors during your pre-operative consultations, and will determine if they are relevant to your surgery.
Does arm reduction surgery remove stretch marks?
An arm lift does not correct specifically stretch marks, however, some of these might be removed or reduced if they are located on the excess skin that is removed.
Dr Sharp’s clinic offers a range of safe skin therapies that have been scientifically proven to reduce stretch marks – without surgery, needles or downtime. If you are specifically concerned about stretch marks, call 3202 4744.
What kind of anaesthetic will I have?
Brachioplasties are performed under a full general anaesthetic. A specifically selected range of medications are administered during the surgery to ensure your post-operative comfort. Dr Sharp works with an experienced and friendly team of anesthetists.
How much time should I take off work after arm lift surgery?
You can return to light activities with a few days, but avoid strenuous activity for up to six weeks. Depending on your work, you may need to time your surgery around your work leave; in this case, it is important to have as much time as possible to plan the surgery and ensure you can book in for the procedure during your required leave period.
How much do arm reductions cost?
Potential costs include:
- Dr Sharp’s fee
- Anaesthetist fee
- Assistant’s fee
- Theatre costs
- Support garments
Brachioplasty for cosmetic reasons is not covered by Medicare or health insurers. However, in some cases, your surgery might be classified as reconstructive, and therefore have a Medicare item number. If so, you might be eligible to claim a rebate from Medicare, as well as your private health fund.
In these cases, after a consultation with Dr Sharp, an application for pre-approval can be lodged with your health fund – to assist with forward planning your out of pocket expenses.
After your consultation with Dr Sharp, if there’s a possibility that your surgery meets Medicare’s criteria, you will be provided with an item number. We recommend you contact your health insurance provider and ask them if you are covered for plastic surgery, particularly siting the item number provided.
It is important to understand that, in the case of complications or revision surgery, the cost of your brachioplasty might extend to future surgical procedures and hospitalisations. We encourage patients to think about how they would fund further treatment beyond the immediate costs expected.
Arm lift: words to know
- Arm lift: A surgical procedure, also known as brachioplasty, to correct sagging of the upper arms.
- Axilla: The underarm area.
- Brachioplasty: A surgical procedure, also known as arm lift or reduction, to correct sagging and excess skin of upper arms.
- General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
- Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
- Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
- Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin’s surface to reduce fullness.
- Local anesthesia: A drug injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
- Skin laxity: Degree of loose skin.
- Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.