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What is an Arm Lift?

Nicole Madison
Updated May 17, 2024
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An arm lift, also referred to as brachioplasty, is a type of plastic surgery that is used to reshape a person’s arm. Arm lifts are used to improve sagging arm tissues that may make a person feel less confident about wearing a short sleeve shirt or a bathing suit. Arm lift procedures are used to remove and tighten excess skin, leaving an arm that looks smoother and more toned. The procedure may be used after or along with liposuction, which is a surgical procedure used to suck fat out of the body.

An individual may consider an arm lift after he has lost a considerable amount of weight. When an individual is overweight, his skin typically stretches to accommodate the extra fat in the arm. Significant weight loss may leave the skin loose and unattractive looking. This is where arm lift procedures can help.

Liposuction isn’t an option for those hoping to get rid of loose skin. It can, however, remove excess fat. With the excess fat gone, patients can decide whether they need arm lifts to achieve the appearance they want for their arms. Some people may also have liposuction and arm lift surgery at the same time.

Arm lift surgery is usually a short procedure, often requiring less than three hours to complete. A surgeon typically will use local anesthesia to numb the area and give the patient sedatives to help them remain calm. Sometimes the procedure may warrant the use of general anesthesia, which renders the patient unconscious.

A surgeon begins an arm lift by making an incision in the patient’s arm, usually in the back or side area. A person with a small amount of excess skin near the armpit may have a smaller incision near the armpit area. Those with more excess skin usually need incisions that start at the underarm and end close to the elbow. Once the incision is made, the doctor may perform liposuction if the patient has requested it. He then cuts excess skin away and stitches the wound shut, leaving smoother, less saggy skin.

Like other surgeries, there are risks for those who choose to have arm lifts. Among the risks are infection, abnormal pooling of blood, loss of sensation, and abnormal scarring. Some people also develop unexpected reactions to the anesthesia or have swelling in their hands. Most people recover without serious complications, however. Typically, arm lift patients can return to their regular activities, including heavy lifting, after about six weeks.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
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Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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