Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery

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Arm Lift

An arm lift, also known as brachioplasty, removes excess hanging skin from the underarm and reshapes the under portion of the upper arm – from the armpit area to the elbow. By addressing excess skin that has lost elasticity or underlying weakened tissues and localized fat deposits, an arm lift can enhance and reshape your arms offering a more toned appearance.

Plastic surgeons at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center offer this surgery to help improve droopy, sagging upper arms resulting from weight loss, the natural aging process, and even heredity.

Before & After Photos

Before

After

Woman in her late sixties, underwent arm lift surgery after losing 20 lbs. Patient's right arm is shown from the front before arm lift surgery (left), and one month after arm lift surgery (right).

Woman in her late sixties, underwent arm lift surgery after losing 20 lbs. Patient's left arm is shown from the front before arm lift surgery (left), and one month after arm lift surgery (right).

Woman in her late sixties, underwent arm lift surgery after losing 20 lbs. Patient's right arm is shown from the back before arm lift surgery (left), and one month after arm lift surgery (right).

Woman in her late sixties, underwent arm lift surgery after losing 20 lbs. Patient's left arm is shown from the back before arm lift surgery (left), and one month after arm lift surgery (right).

Woman in her fifties that experienced massive weight loss after gastric bypass surgery. She was concerned about skin excess in her upper arms. Patient underwent arm lift surgery and is shown before surgery (left) and four months after arm lift surgery (right).

Woman in her fifties that experienced massive weight loss after gastric bypass surgery. She was concerned about skin excess in her upper arms. Patient underwent arm lift surgery and is shown before surgery (left) and four months after arm lift surgery (right).

Woman in her forties who was concerned about skin excess in her upper arms. Patient is shown before arm lift surgery (left) and eight months after arm lift surgery (right).

Woman in her forties who was concerned about skin excess in her upper arms. Patient is shown before arm lift surgery (left) and eight months after arm lift surgery (right).

Woman in her fifties who was concerned about skin excess in her upper arms. Patient is shown before arm lift surgery (left) and three weeks after arm lift surgery (right).

Woman in her fifties who was concerned about skin excess in her upper arms. Patient is shown before arm lift surgery (left) and three weeks after arm lift surgery (right).

Female in her sixties who was concerned about skin excess in her upper arms. Patient is shown before arm lift surgery (left) and four months after arm lift surgery (right).

Female in her sixties who was concerned about skin excess in her upper arms. Patient is shown before arm lift surgery (left) and four months after arm lift surgery (right).

Am I a candidate for an arm lift/brachioplasty?

If the underside of your upper arms are sagging or appear loose and full due to excess skin, this procedure may be right for you. Thin people may also have sagging upper arms due to the effects of prior weight loss, aging and genetics. Even regular exercise and strength training cannot get rid of excess sagging skin in this area; exercise can tone and tighten muscles but can not tighten skin.

Good candidates for an arm lift include:

  • Adults with significant upper arm skin excess and laxity
  • Adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable and who are not significantly overweight
  • Healthy individuals who do not have medical conditions that can impair healing or increase risk of surgery
  • Individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations.

The best way to determine if you are a candidate for this procedure is through a consultation with a plastic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center.

How do I prepare for an arm lift/brachioplasty?

Preparing for your arm lift at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center will include discussing a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle with your plastic surgeon, including:

  • Why you want the procedure, your expectations and desired outcome
  • Your medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
  • Your use of current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drugs.

Your Cleveland Clinic plastic surgeon may also:

  • Evaluate your general health and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Examine and measure your body, recording detailed measurements and taking photos for your medical record
  • Ask you to stop taking aspirin-containing products for two weeks before surgery
  • Ask you to stop smoking for at least two weeks before surgery.

How is an arm lift/brachioplasty performed?

An arm lift at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is generally an outpatient procedure. The procedure typically takes one to two hours, but may take longer depending on the extent of the surgery and any additional procedures, such as liposuction, that are performed at the same time.

To perform the surgery, your plastic surgeon will make incisions on the inside or back of your arm. Incisions may span from the underarm to just above the elbow, depending on the amount of excess skin.

Some people who have lost a significant amount of weight following bariatric surgery may have more excess skin and will need an incision that runs from the elbow, along the arm pit, and onto the side of the chest.

Before the incision is made, your plastic surgeon may use liposuction to remove excess fat. Excessive skin is then removed, tightened and sutured into place with deep sutures that are absorbable. Your surgeon may also use sutures in the skin that will need to be removed within one to two weeks after surgery.

What results can I expect?

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 in your arms, but most of your improvement from surgery should be relatively permanent.

Many patients who have an arm lift may also consider other body contouring procedures, such as tummy tuck, thigh lift or body lift. Follow-up with a plastic surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center is the best way to ensure what surgical approach is best for your overall, long-lasting results from your procedure.

What is involved in recovery?

Following your surgery, dressings or bandages will be applied to your incisions, and your arms may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.

Recovery may include some mild discomfort right after the procedure. It is normal for some swelling and bruising to occur, with most swelling peaking two to three days after your arm lift and subsiding within two weeks. By elevating your arm with pillows you can reduce swelling and increase comfort during recovery.

Is an arm lift/brachioplasty safe?

All surgical procedures carry some risk.

Possible side effects from arm lift surgery include:

  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Scarring
  • Loss of sensation
  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Swelling of the hands
  • Seromas (fluid filled masses along the incision line).

Why Choose Us

If you’re considering an arm lift, look for a plastic surgeon with specialized training and significant experience performing these procedures. Consider going to an expert who is affiliated with a major medical center, such as at Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center. Ask your specialist about credentials, training and how many arm lift procedures he or she has performed.

Is this procedure covered by health insurance?

Like all cosmetic procedures, an arm lift is not typically covered by health insurance. Ask to talk with a financial representative from Cleveland Clinic Cosmetic & Plastic Surgery Center who can explain costs of the procedure and if insurance coverage is an option for you.

This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.