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?

by Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez

The brachioplasty procedure, also known as an arm lift, 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 are the medical indications for arm lift surgery ?

In general, candidates for an arm lift include adults with significant upper arm skin sagging and laxity. If the underside of your upper arms have developed sagging, drooping skin, or appears loose due to excess skin, an armlift may be for you. Other symptoms include loss of skin elasticity and weakened tissues in the upper arms.

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 in their arms.

What types of arm lifts does you perform?

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

-a Maryland patient

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 the 1) amount of skin you have hanging from your armpit and arms 2) the length of your arm which has the amount of hanging skin.

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

  • 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 our arm.

  • 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 is Traditional Arm Lift plus 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. This extended Arm Lift is also known as a Thoracic lift.

What are the alternatives to the arm lift?

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 .

Where is the arm lift performed?

The Arm Lift procedure should be performed under anesthesia in an accredited surgical facility with a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon and a Board Certified Anesthesiologist. I perform all of my arm lift surgeries in my Medicare certified, AAAASF accredited outpatient facility, located in Baltimore.

What type of anesthesia is used for arm lift surgery?

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. Additionally, the use of IV anesthesia will eliminate the risk of pulmonary embolism associated with General Anesthesia. 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.

What is Arm Lift recovery like?

The post op recovery for Arm Lift involves taking a minimum of 2 weeks off from work. During this period you should elevate the arms and avoid movement to 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. In summary: 

  • 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
  • Up to 4 week- Limited range of motion of arms
  • At 4-6 weeks- Resume normal activities

During the post-op recover period we'll give you written specific instructions and, as always, our staff is available for any concerns. Dr. Rodriguez will closely follow your recovery and recommend the level of activity you may resume at the appropriate time. 

How much does an arm lift cost?

The price range for arm lift surgery, including Dr. Rodriguez's fee, the operating facility fee, IV-sedation anesthesia (twilight), anesthesiologist 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.

Is arm lift surgery right for me?

The decision to have arm lift surgery is extremely personal and you will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable. Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations are usually thrilled with their results.

Brachioplasty is not a surgical treatment for being overweight. Obese individuals who intend to lose weight should postpone all forms of body contouring surgery until they have reached a stable weight.

Before and After Arm Lift Photos

See Before and After Photos of the Arm Lift Procedure performed by Dr. Ricardo Rodriguez, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with over 20 years experience. Please note that all of these patients have given written consent to use their photos at our web site. We are very grateful for their participation in patient education!

How do I find out what type of arm lift I need?

The best way to know what procedure is right for you is to have a consultation with Dr. Rodriguez. To schedule an appointment, please call 410-494-8100 now and we'll be happy to schedule a time for you to visit our beautiful Baltimore office. Unable to visit in person? We also offer virtual consultations. Please see our virtual consultation instructions for more information. Any consult fees are applied towards your surgery.