An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that reshapes the under portion of the upper arm, from the underarm region to the elbow. The procedure is performed to:


  • Reduce excess sagging skin that droops downward
  • Tighten and smooth the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm
  • Reduce localized pockets of fat in the upper arm region
  • Fluctuations in weight, growing older and even heredity can cause your upper arms to have a drooping, sagging appearance.

Exercise may strengthen and improve the underlying muscle tone of the upper arm, but it cannot address excess skin that has lost elasticity or underlying weakened tissues and localized fat deposits.
If the underside of your upper arms are sagging or appear loose and full due to excess skin and fat, an arm lift may be right for you.
Candidates for this procedure should be in good general health, non-smokers and realistic about their expectations for the cosmetic surgery. Those with chronic health conditions should consult with a cosmetic surgeon to decide whether an arm lift is the right choice for them.

The operation

Upper arm lifts are usually performed under a general anaesthetic. Crescent or “smile”-shaped segments of skin and fat from underneath the skin are removed from the upper arm, and the remaining skin and tissue are lifted to achieve a tighter and smoother effect.
This procedure involves an incision that either runs the full length of the inside of the upper arm, or at the back of the arm from the armpit to the elbow. This procedure removes excess sagging skin of the upper arm and improves the contour of the arm. In some cases, an upper arm lift may be combined with liposuction for best results. The fat is suctioned away from the area first, and then the excess skin is removed and the incision is closed.
This operation requires the surgeon to make long cuts through the skin and, therefore, the patient will be left with long scars after the surgery. Scars may run from the armpit to the elbow.

Risks and complications

There is quite a severe amount of pain and discomfort during the healing process, but this can usually be controlled effectively with painkillers.
Bruising is visible after upper arm lift surgery and can spread down the arms. Swelling can also be very obvious and can take up to three or four months to disappear. You may also experience numbness of the skin around the upper arms and it may take several months for the sensation to return.

Like all surgical procedures, there is always a possibility of risks or side effects and, although rare, complications can include infection, a reaction to the anaesthetic, blood or fluid collection underneath the skin, nerve damage, blood clots, and an irregular or a “lop-sided” appearance of the arms after the operation.
The surgery does produce a permanent scar. Your scars may actually appear to worsen during the first three to six months as they heal, but this is normal. Expect it to take nine months to a year before your scars flatten out and lighten in colour.
Excessive scar formation, however, can occasionally occur where the scars become broad and thick.
It may take you weeks or months to feel like your old self again. If you are fit when you have this operation, you will recover much more quickly than if you are out of shape.
The results of arm lift surgery 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, but most of your improvement should be relatively permanent.