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Arm lift (brachioplasty)


The goal of surgical rejuvenation of the upper arm is to remove excess skin and to reduce the circumference of the arm. Where there is good skin tone and minimal sagging, liposuction may be used to reduce the circumference. For most patients seeking surgery to this area, however, this is not an option, and performing liposuction can result in a worsening of the appearance as skin sagging becomes even more prominent.


  • Type of anaesthetic
    General anaesthetic
    Length of surgery
    2 hours
    Nights in hospital
    1 night
    From armpit to or past elbow, on inner aspect of arm

  • Recovery
    1-2 weeks off work
    4 weeks gentle exercise
    6 weeks strenuous exercise
    1 week (dressing clinic)
    2 weeks
    6 weeks
    6 months


My approach

Like all cosmetic procedures, the degree of satisfaction that patients experience with the results of this procedure is very much dependent on what their expectations were in advance of the procedure. When a patient attends me seeking this surgery, my primary concern is to ensure that they are fully prepared in advance of their surgery in order that they are delighted with their result.

The surgery

Excess skin and fat are removed from the inner aspect of the arm, leaving a scar in the armpit crease, that extends from there along the inner aspect of the arm to the inside of the elbow. Where a lot of skin is being removed, for example following massive weight loss, it may be necessary to extend the scar beyond the elbow.

Consequences and limitations

A brachioplasty operation will result in removal of some skin and fat excess, and a reduction in the circumference of the upper arm. The degree of tightening that is achievable from this procedure is limited by factors that affect wound healing, and may not be as much as the patient desires. The scarring from this procedure is significant, and in some patients may be highly visible. Healing can be slow and hypertrophic scarring may occur. It may be necessary to wear a compression sleeve for several months after the surgery to minimise swelling (oedema). There is a risk of lymphoedema, and permanent patches of skin numbness may occur. There is a risk of damage to the nerves supplying feeling and movement to the hand, but this is low. As with any procedure performed on both sides of the body, asymmetry may occur. The results of the procedure last well, and while some degree of skin laxity will naturally occur over time, it is highly unlikely that it will recur to the same extent as pre-operatively if the patient maintains a stable weight.