Hanging skin on the upper arms combined with a loss of tone are concerns that frequently occur after major weight loss or simply from the natural aging process. This loose skin is sometimes accompanied by fatty deposits, which often lead to a lack of definition. Our board-certified plastic surgeon, Tiffany McCormack, MD, performs an arm lift at McCormack Plastic Surgery to help patients restore a smoother, leaner contour in the treated areas.
An arm lift, medically termed a brachioplasty, is a procedure that is performed to remove excess skin in the upper arms to restore a more youthful and defined appearance. This cosmetic surgery is often pursued after significant weight loss, as the skin can lose the ability to contract around a patient’s new arm shape after fat is shed — a factor known as skin elasticity. For individuals with good skin elasticity, minimal skin sagging, and disproportionate amounts of fat, liposuction is another body contouring procedure that can be a good alternative to an arm lift. An arm lift and liposuction are also commonly performed together for comprehensive improvement in the upper arms.
Depending on your surgical goals, an arm lift can be an exceptional way to achieve a smoother, firmer, and tauter arm appearance. In general, a brachioplasty procedure can:
In most cases, the best candidates for an arm lift are healthy individuals who do not have any uncontrolled medical conditions or future plans for significant weight loss. Prospective patients should also be concerned with excess skin in the upper arms and desire a smoother, more defined arm appearance. Dr. McCormack will fully assess your medical history and cosmetic goals during a consultation to help you determine whether brachioplasty is the best procedure to meet your needs.
Performed by Dr. McCormack, the arm lift procedure takes between two to three hours. Excess skin is removed and some liposuction is commonly performed as well. The incisions are closed with absorbable sutures. A scar is placed along the length of the upper inner arm and is hidden whenever your arms are by your side. Often, a drain tube is left in each arm. Each patient is placed in a compression garment to help minimize swelling.
The arms remain swollen for several weeks following the procedure. You will be seen in the office two to three days after your surgery to remove dressings and, possibly, drains. You should refrain from lifting anything greater than 15 pounds for six weeks after surgery. Most patients are able to return to work in about one week. The scars will not disappear completely, though they will begin to fade within two to three months and reach their final appearance in one to two years. It is important that these scars are not exposed to sun while they are still red, as this may lead to skin darkening or pigmentation. If sun exposure is unavoidable, a sun block of 15 SPF or higher should be applied.
While the exact results of brachioplasty are not possible without surgery, patients can still improve their arm shape through non-surgical treatments like CoolSculpting® Elite. Using controlled cooling and non-invasive techniques, CoolSculpting® Elite can help destroy fat cells in the upper arms and shed stubborn fat. Once the targeted fat is metabolized through natural body processes, the skin should naturally conform to your new, slimmer arm shape. That said, CoolSculpting® Elite can only reduce arm fat by up to 30 percent — often after multiple sessions — so this non-surgical treatment does have its limitations. Furthermore, non-invasive technologies cannot repair sagging skin or a loss of support caused by weakened musculature. We encourage you to browse our CoolSculpting® Elite before-and-after photos to see examples of the results possible with non-invasive body contouring.