Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

It would be nice if we could always keep the smooth, toned arms from our younger years….but eventually, due to the aging process and gravity, or as a result of weight loss, you may develop loose or sagging skin on your upper arms, diminishing their youthful appearance.  This can make you feel self-conscious, especially if there is enough excess that it makes you feel as if you have the dreaded “bat-wing” appearance. As a result, you may find that you are always trying to hide your arms under longer (or even wider) sleeves, and that even that may not be enough to disguise them.  Diet and exercise, while helping to reduce fat and strengthen muscle, can only go so far. An arm lift (also known as a brachioplasty) may be the next step to help recontour your arms, making them look slimmer and shapelier, and nicely complementing the rest of your figure.

Who is a good candidate?

If you are unsatisfied with the look, shape, or size of your upper arms due to loose or sagging skin, and feel that this is making you more inhibited or limiting your enjoyment of life, then a brachioplasty may be right for you. For those who have lost a significant amount of weight, but feel that their arms do not reflect such an achievement, an arm lift can give them that boost of confidence.

Although the procedure does slim your arms, it is not intended to be a weight loss tool. Instead, it should be performed only on those whose weight has been stable for some time, and who do not plan to gain or lose too much weight in the future, as this could negate the results. 

Arm Lift Options

There are several options for an arm lift, ranging from a mini to a major, all of which are dependent upon the amount of excess skin and where it is located, as well as on your contouring goals.  Dr. Moya routinely utilizes liposuction not only to increase the safety and ease of skin removal, but to also enhance the overall result. Following a thorough discussion and clinical evaluation, Dr. Moya will be able to help you choose the solution that’s right for you.

Mini Arm Lift:

-may be good for you if you need only a little bit of tightening of the skin on your upper arms
-incision is placed inside the armpit, so the scar is less visible

Limited Arm Lift:

-may be good for you if you need a little more tightening of the skin on your upper arms but do not have a lot of loose skin
-incision is placed inside the armpit but extends down your arm a bit (usually not more than halfway)

Standard Arm Lift:

-may be good for you if you have experienced significant weight loss (with or without bariatric surgery) and have a lot of loose skin on your upper arms
-incision extends from your armpit to your elbow and can be placed along the inside (medial approach) or on the back of your arm (posterior approach)

Major Arm Lift:

-may be good for you if you have experienced significant weight loss (with or without bariatric surgery) and have a lot of loose skin on your upper arms as well as underarms
-incision is the same as for the standard (either along the inside or on the back of your arm), but also extends down along the side of your chest for a more dramatic result

The specific position and length of an incision for a standard or major arm lift will vary depending on the location and degree of loose skin, as well as your desired aesthetic result.  Should you have a moderate amount of hanging skin near your elbow, for example, an incision along the inside of your arm (medial) may be less visible, but may require an extension onto the inside of your forearm to achieve the same smooth contouring results provided by an incision along the back of your arm (posterior) which would end at your elbow.  

Dr. Moya will be able to tailor any of the above arm lift options to meet your individual needs.  Because of his use of advanced technology (Harmonic® devices), even with the most extensive option, drain placement is completely unnecessary, making recovery that much more comfortable.

Recovery after arm lift surgery

After the procedure, you will wear a compression garment over the entire area to minimize swelling, usually for a couple of weeks. Sitting and sleeping with your arms elevated somewhat will also help reduce swelling, which is most noticeable for the first few days after surgery.   In most cases, you will be able to use non-prescription pain medication to help control your discomfort in combination with prescription pain medication as needed.  While you will be able to use your arms for minor activities of daily living right after surgery, you will need to hold off on returning to your normal daily activities for a couple of weeks.  You may resume strenuous activities, including heavy lifting and exercise, at 6 weeks.  Since each patient is different, Dr. Moya will take the time to discuss your specific recovery plan with you.

Results

It is very important to keep in mind that a standard or major (extended) arm lift is not possible to perform without leaving a more visible scar.  Dr. Moya will be very mindful of this with regard to incision placement. Scars will fade in color over time, and for most patients who have experienced significant weight loss and have lost shape of their upper arms, the contouring benefits of a brachioplasty seem to far outweigh the scars left behind by the surgery.  Long-term, it is very important that you maintain a stable weight, so that the results of your arm lift can last for many years.

*Before and after photos are available at the time of consult.