Brachioplasty is a procedure to change the shape of the back of the upper arm, from the arm to the elbow. It is also called an arm lift. It helps to get rid of excess skin and tissue, giving the upper arm a smoother appearance.

When someone gains a lot of weight, their skin stretches over time. Your skin may not have the elasticity to bounce back into place if you lose a lot of weight. This can lead to additional folds of tissue in the skin.

Therefore, brachioplasty is a body sculpting procedure. This procedure is often performed after weight loss surgery. Most people who have had weight loss surgery are usually interested in body contouring surgery.

Why Brachioplasty is Done

The skin on the upper arms tends to change with age, sagging and loosening. Additionally, significant weight loss can cause sagging of the lower part of the upper arms.

Exercising the upper arm can build and improve muscle tone, but it will not help with excess skin that has lost its elasticity. If the lower part of the upper arms is sagging, you may consider brachioplasty. Arm lifting can also help you feel better.

The brachioplasty procedure would be suitable for healthy, non-smoking individuals who have isolated sagging skin on the inner and back parts of their arms. Before considering brachioplasty or other body contouring surgeries, people who have lost a significant amount of weight should maintain a stable weight for at least six months.

Preparing for Brachioplasty

Several weeks or months before undergoing surgery, you can make efforts to ensure that your brachioplasty is as safe and successful as possible. If you are a smoker, quitting smoking at least one to two months before the procedure may help you avoid complications.

Slow wound healing, for example, is a typical issue associated with smoking, which increases the risk of infection. Before undergoing surgery, work with your doctor to develop a smoking cessation strategy.

The doctor will perform a preoperative assessment several weeks before the brachioplasty procedure. They will check your overall health and assess your medical history to ensure you are ready for the surgery.

The healthcare provider will begin by looking for any underlying health issues that may make the procedure risky. Therefore, the preoperative evaluation may include:

Chest X-ray

Laboratory tests


Prescription of medications you need to take before surgery

Adjustment of current medication dosage and supplements

Your doctor will use the results of the preoperative assessment to determine the safest surgical technique. Two weeks before the surgery, you should stop using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin).

Brachioplasty Procedure

On the scheduled day of the surgery, the doctor will begin by identifying and marking the areas of the arm and making incisions. Brachioplasty can be performed in various ways.

The most typical ones involve making incisions on the inner or backside of the arms. The incision under the armpits or the one running from the top of the elbow to the armpit are common alternatives. Depending on your doctor's surgical procedure, you will receive either local or general anesthesia.

Then, the doctor tightens or reshapes the tissue on the upper part of the arm, following the marks created on the arm as a guide. The next step is pulling the skin back over the tissue and using stitches to close the surgical wound.

The doctor may also perform liposuction simultaneously if there are excess fat pockets hindering full arm recovery.

The entire procedure usually takes three hours. You will likely need someone to drive you home after the surgery. If necessary, they should also stay with you overnight to ensure you do not develop complications.

Risks of Brachioplasty

Brachioplasty procedure carries a number of risks and complications, including:

 Asymmetric shape and appearance of the arms: This may occur due to the changes that occur during the healing process. Additionally, while the surgeon aims to make the arms appear as symmetric as possible, absolute symmetry is not achievable.

 Suture issues: The sutures used by surgeons to hold the new shape of the arm in place may reach the surface of the skin. Consequently, removal is necessary. As a result, the damaged skin may become inflamed. Additionally, you may require another surgery.

 Scarring: Scars from brachioplasty are usually permanent, although they are mostly hidden in places where they are not noticeable. Sometimes visible incisions may appear, leading to raised, red scars. Corticosteroid injections or other forms of treatment may be recommended to improve the appearance of scars.

 Changes in skin sensation: Displacement of tissues in the arm during brachioplasty may interfere with your superficial sensory nerves. As a result, you may experience some numbness for a period of time.

Brachioplasty, like any other major surgery, carries the risk of infection, bleeding, and anesthetic reaction. Not everyone is a good candidate for arm lifting. If you have any of the following conditions, your doctor may advise against brachioplasty:

Significantly obesity

Frequent weight changes

You have a health condition that complicates wound healing

You are a tobacco user

People with a medical history of connective tissue disorders such as Ehlers-Danlos may not be suitable candidates for the surgery. This is because it requires significant incisions and such patients have poor tissue quality and healing issues.

Additionally, patients who take long-term oral steroids for health reasons are not excellent candidates for brachioplasty.

Recovery After Brachioplasty
You may need to wear compression garments to manage swelling while recovering from surgery. Your doctor may place a temporary drainage tube in your arm to help drain blood or fluid accumulated after the surgery.
Additionally, your doctor will provide you with postoperative instructions to follow at home. These may include information on how to care for your wounds, medications to use, signs to watch for concerning complications, and scheduling a follow-up appointment.
During the recovery period after brachioplasty, it's also important to refrain from smoking. Smoking hinders the healing process, increasing your chances of developing permanent scars or even infection. After two weeks, you should be able to return to work and resume certain activities. You should resume your normal physical activity or level of activity after six weeks.
After the initial healing phase, inform your doctor if you experience pain or difficulty moving.
The most significant factor to consider in this treatment is the prominent scars that can be difficult to conceal. While a short scar brachioplasty is possible, it's only for patients with loose skin on the upper back of the arm towards the armpit. Short-sleeved clothing can cover this brachioplasty scar.

Results of Brachioplasty

Brachioplasty can give the upper arms a much-toned appearance by eliminating loose skin. The effect of the procedure is usually long-lasting. However, keep in mind that your skin will gradually lose some of its tightness with age, and sagging may occur. Therefore, maintaining a healthy and stable weight may allow you to maintain the results.

After Brachioplasty

After any surgery, there are various things you can do. After an arm lift surgery, the main thing to do includes applying dressings and compression garments to the arm. This helps reduce swelling and bruising in the area. Also, make sure to keep the dressings dry at all times.


Age and genetics play a role in the formation of sagging skin. After significant weight loss, you may find yourself with excess skin.

Brachioplasty is usually a cosmetic surgical procedure. It reduces excess skin, tightens and smoothes tissue, and eliminates excess fat to address sagging underarms. As a result, your upper arms will appear more defined and toned.