To remove excess hanging skin from the arms following a gastric bypass surgery for weight loss, this patient had an Arm Lift.

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What is an Arm Lift?

The Arm Lift, also known as the Brachioplasty procedure, reduces excess skin and underlying fat that occurs between the underarm and the elbow, reshaping the arm to result in smoother skin and more normal contours.

What problems does an Arm Lift address?

After my weight loss, the excess skin on my upper arms makes me look like I have bat wings.

-a Maryland patient

In general, candidates for an arm lift include adults with significant upper arm skin sagging and laxity.

Candidates usually have these signs or symptoms

  • Excess upper-arm skin and fat following significant weight loss
  • Loss of upper-arm skin elasticity
  • Weakened tissues in the upper arm

The procedure can be performed on adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable and who are not significantly overweight. An arm lift will reduce the size of your upper arms to give you smooth, tightened skin and a more toned and proportionate appearance. This procedure is commonly performed on patients who have had a large amount of weight loss or patients who have a lot of saggy skin on their arms.

What are the Pre-Operative Requirements?

It is important to note that brachioplasty is not a surgical treatment for being overweight, but rather a body contouring treatment often performed on patients who have already lost a significant amount of weight. Therefore, prior to having an arm lift you should have reached your weight-loss goals and maintained a stable weight.

Pre-Operative preparations

  • Quit smoking 2 weeks prior to surgery
  • Stop taking multivitamins, herbals, and aspirin prior to surgery
  • Have an Physical examination (H&P) and CBC (anemia detection) to clear you for surgery
  • NPO after midnight before surgery

How is the Arm Lift procedure performed?

arm lift surgery on the rise 2012 statisticsArm lifts should only be performed by a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon at either an accredited out patient surgery center or a hospital. During the past 8 years I have performed all of my Arm Lift procedures in my AAAASF accredited, Medicare Certified, out-patient surgery center. To give you the highest level of safety, anesthesia is administered by Board Certified Anesthesiologist. I do not use CRNA's.

What type of anesthesia is used?

I prefer the use of monitored IV-sedation anesthesia instead of general anesthesia. With IV anesthesia, you are awake as soon as the procedure is over, and most patients do not have any post operative nausea. To learn more about IV sedation and the difference between it and general sedation, see my blog post about the types of anesthesia used in cosmetic surgery.

Brachioplasty Surgical Options

The Arm Lift can be performed at three different levels. The level chosen is a decision that you make with me during your initial consultation and is mainly a function of 1) the amount of skin you have hanging from your armpit and arms and 2) the length of your arm which has the amount of hanging skin.

Invisible Arm Lift

The Invisible Arm Lift removes excess skin at the crease of axilla (armpit) resulting in a short scar and is usually combined with liposuction of the upper arm to remove fatty tissue.

Traditional Arm Lift

The Traditional Arm Lift removes hanging skin and fatty tissue from your armpit to just above the elbow. The incision is made on the inside of your arm.

Extended Arm Lift

The Extended Arm Lift, or Thoracic Lift, removes excess skin and fatty tissue that is on the side of the chest, axilla, and upper arm. This procedure includes the Traditional Arm Lift but adds the removal of skin along the side of your upper chest. The incision goes from your armpit, down the inside of your arm, and extends all the way down the midpoint of the side of your chest.

Liposuction may be a surgical alternative to brachioplasty if there is good skin tone and localized fatty deposits in an individual of normal weight. However, if you have too much excess skin, liposuction alone will only make the skin more saggy. In other words, if you have loose arm skin and liposuction alone is performed, your arms will likely look worse! Loose hanging skin can only be tightened by cutting off and removing the excess skin.

What is Arm Lift Post-Op recovery like?

Having an Arm Lift involves taking a minimum of 2 weeks off from work. During this period you should elevate the arms and avoid movement of the arms.

During the next two weeks, you will have a limited range of motion in your arms. By the end of week 6 you should be able to resume normal activities.

Post-Operative recovery instructions

  • First 48 hours: Strict Bed rest with arms elevated and avoid movement to arms. You should have someone stay with you during this initial post operative period.
  • Day 3-14: Resting with arms elevated and avoid movements to arms
  • Between 2-3 weeks: Retention sutures are removed
  • Up to week 4: Limited range of motion of arms
  • At 4-6 weeks: Resume normal activities

During the post-op recovery period we will provide specific, written instructions and, as always, our staff will be available to answer any questions or concerns. I will closely follow your recovery and recommend the level of activity you may resume at the appropriate time.

What are the risks and possible complications?

As with any surgery, there are risks and possible complications with having an arm lift. This ASPS page on Arm Lift has a complete list of all complications. The most common complications include:

  • Hematoma
  • Seroma
  • Infection
  • Unfavorable scarring
  • Possible need for revision surgery

Finding out if an Arm Lift is right for you

If the underside of your upper arms have developed sagging, drooping skin, or appears loose due to excess skin, an arm lift may be for you. The best way to know if an arm lift (and what type of an arm lift) would help you reach your overall goal is to schedule a consultation with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon so you can describe exactly what you're looking to achieve.

How much does an Arm Lift cost?

The price range for arm lift surgery (including the surgeon's fee, the operating room fee, anesthesia fee, and the post-surgery compression garment) averages between $6,000 to $14,500. Costs vary depending on the complexity and the type of arm lift as well as the time needed in the operating room.

The extended arm lift, or thoracic lift, is a 6-8 hour procedure; and, therefore, has the highest cost. At your initial consultation you'll be provided with a surgical fee quote that is specific to your surgical plan. Many patients finance all or part of their surgery. Please see our cosmetic surgery financing options for more information.

Patient Photos, Reviews, and Testimonials

before and after post bariatric brachioplastyI have been performing arm lift procedures for over 20 years. If you're interested in seeing the types of results possible with an arm lift, take a look at our arm lift photo gallery. You might also want to see patient reviews and testimonials. Every patient in our gallery and on our testimonial pages have given written permission for us to use their photos on our website. We are very grateful for their participation in patient education!

Having Your Arm Lift in Baltimore, Maryland

Contact Us Many of our surgical patients come from out of town. Baltimore is only 30 miles from BWI airport and we are only 20 minutes from the downtown Amtrak train station. Give us a call at +1-410-494-8100 or Contact Us online. We'll be happy to schedule a time for you to visit our offices or participate in a virtual consultation.

Following surgery, we help arrange nursing care to make your stay more comfortable. My staff will assist with transportation arrangements during the post op period. All of these things will be discussed with my staff following your Initial or Virtual Consultation with me.

doctor's signatureUpdated June 30, 2015
Ricardo L Rodriguez
Board Certified Plastic Surgery