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Arm Lift

The Ideal Arm

The attractive, tapering contour of a woman's arm is admired, especially during the warmer months, when short sleeves and sundresses are in fashion. The components of an attractive upper arm include a gradually tapering cylinder from the top of the upper arm extending down to the elbow. There is a well-defined groove along the inside of the upper arm, which marks the border between the biceps muscle and its insertion onto the humerus bone.

How does arm shape change with weight loss and aging?

With time and weight gain, fat deposits accumulate in the posterior compartment of the arm. This adds weight and heaviness to the arm, and gradually the skin in this portion of the arm loses elasticity. With rapid weight loss (after bariatric weight-loss surgery, for example) the skin in this region of the arm does not retract around the smaller arm volume. The result is a 'bat wing' deformity, composed of some excess fat and a great deal of excess skin. For patients with a mild excess fat in the back of the arm, and no excess skin, good improvement can be achieved with liposuction alone. For patients with even a mild amount of loose skin in the back of the arm, or patients with a moderate amount of fat, the best solution is a brachioplasty (arm lift) operation.

What can arm lift surgery achieve?

The arm lift procedure can significantly improve the laxity and sagging of the arms as long as the patient is willing to accept the relatively long incision along the length of the arm. Some patients have lost a substantial amount of weight and have significant skin laxity along the upper lateral chest wall, below the arm pit. These patients can be treated with an extended arm lift (thoraco-brachioplasty) procedure. With this procedure, an incision is continued across the arm pit and onto the upper lateral chest, thus removing excess skin in this region. This procedure completely rejuvenates the upper arm and upper thorax and arm pit regions.


Before and After extended arm lift (brachioplasty).  * Individual results may vary.

What type of anesthesia is used for arm-lift surgery?

Arm lift surgery takes about two hours to perform, and is done on an outpatient basis. The Arm lift surgery can be performed under IV sedation anesthesia or general anesthesia.

What is the recovery process like?

A brachioplasty takes between 2-4 hours to perform, depending on the extent of the procedure. After surgery, you will go home the same day. In order to reduce swelling and improve the contour of the arm, you will wear a pair of lightly compressive arm sleeves for two weeks post-op. Your arms will feel 'tight', but you will be able to bend them at the elbow. You should avoid any type of weight lifting exercise for 4 weeks post-op. You are encouraged to walk after surgery, and to do light aerobic exercise one week after surgery.

I am interested! What do I do next?

If you are considering this procedure we encourage you to complete this Surgical Consultation Intake Form. Dr. Burnett will tell you whether you are a suitable candidate for an arm lift procedure and inform you of the potential risks of the procedure. There are a variety of arm lift procedures, and the procedure must be custom tailored for the patient to get the best possible result. You will also have a chance to view before and after photo albums of patients who have undergone procedures similar to what you are considering.

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