Dr. Steven Fagien & Dr. Elbert Vaca

Arm Lift / Brachioplasty

Body Procedures

An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a common surgical procedure used to address excess fat and/or skin of the upper arm. There are many variations to this surgery, and it is individually tailored to each patient based on several factors including:

  • Amount of extra skin
  • Amount of extra fatty tissue
  • Location of excess fatty tissue and excess skin
  • Skin elasticity (i.e. the quality of your skin and how much the skin is expected to retract after surgery)
  • History of significant weight loss
  • Patient’s overall health
What are the different types of arm lift surgery?

A consultation with Dr. Vaca will help determine which type of brachioplasty surgery will best help address your concerns. Liposuction can be combined with most arm lift techniques; however, the anticipated amount and location of extra & loose skin helps determine which technique is most appropriate. There are several types of brachioplasty including:

Liposuction Only

While this is technically not considered an arm lift, liposuction alone may be helpful in younger patients with extra fatty tissue and little to no extra skin with good elasticity (i.e. patients whose skin is expected to retract after surgery). Liposuction is performed via very small incisions to remove extra fatty tissue.

Limited Incision Arm Lift

If there is extra skin limited to the upper arm near the armpit, then a smaller incision may be used to remove upper arm skin. This incision is concealed along the crease of the upper arm near the armpit.

Traditional Arm Lift

If your arm has extra skin and fatty tissue from your armpit to your elbow, then you are likely a candidate for a traditional arm lift. Liposuction is often used to remove extra fatty tissue and improve the contour of your arm. An incision is then made along the inner part of your arm to remove extra skin. This procedure is more commonly used in patients with significant weight loss and is an effective way to address larger areas of loose skin.

Extended Arm Lift

In some patients, especially after significant weight loss, the area of extra skin can extend down the body and side of the chest. The incision is very similar to a traditional arm lift, except that the incision extends past the armpit onto the side of the body.

Am I a good candidate for arm lift surgery?

Healthy nonsmokers with a stable weight and realistic expectations make better surgical candidates. If you have a history of weight loss surgery (i.e. gastric bypass), it is especially important to make sure you have no vitamin, mineral or protein deficiencies to minimize the risk of healing problems after surgery.

What are the risks of Arm Lift surgery?

All surgical procedures carry a degree of uncertainty and risk. Thankfully, the risk of any major complication is rare.

While every attempt is made to make the scars as faint and hidden as possible, scars may be more prominent in some patients. Occasionally, these scars may require revision. Poor healing can occur – this is more common in smokers. Unfavorable scarring is more common in patients who experience poor healing.

Infection and bleeding are rare but can occur. Injury to the nerves that provide sensation to the inner arm and upper forearm is rare but can occur. This can result in numbness or decreases sensation in these areas.

There is the possibility of developing a fluid collection which may require drainage.

During surgery, every attempt is made to make the contour of your arm as best as possible. However, in patients with very loose and stretched skin, the skin is more prone to re-stretch and loosen over time. This is more common in patients who have had significant weight loss.

Meet Dr. Vaca

Dr. Vaca

Dr. Elbert E. Vaca is a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon who completed his medical training at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
Learn more...

Meet Dr. Fagien

Dr. Fagien

Dr. Steven Fagien is one of the foremost oculoplastic surgeons in the United States and the world. He completed his medical training at the University of Florida and a fellowship in oculoplastic surgery at the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary.
Learn more...

Request a Consultation