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School of Medicine
Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)
An arm lift, also called a brachioplasty, firms and reshapes the upper arm from the elbow to the shoulder. An arm lift removes sagging skin and fat that make many people self-conscious. The plastic surgeons at Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore, Maryland, do two different kinds of arm lifts.
In a minimal incision arm lift, the plastic surgeon will make a small incision near the armpit if there isn’t much sagging skin to remove. In that case, your plastic surgeon will make the incision and do liposuction to remove excess fat.
For people who have lost large amounts of weight or have more sagging skin for other reasons, the plastic surgeon will do a regular brachioplasty, making a longer incision that stretches from the elbow past the armpit. In this procedure, your surgeon will not only do liposuction but will also remove and tighten the excess skin.
What to expect during an arm lift
For either kind of arm lift, you may receive local anesthesia and sedation so that you will be comfortable, or you may receive general anesthesia so that you will be asleep throughout. An arm lift generally takes from one to three hours. You will have a drainage tube for each arm, and this may be removed in one week. Pain is generally not significant.
Recovery from arm lift surgery
It is an outpatient procedure so you can go home the same day. You will likely be able to see the results of the arm lift immediately. Swelling should begin to disappear in a matter of weeks and resolve completely in a few months.
Your doctor will advise you about how long you should refrain from exercise and stay home from work. You may also need to wear a compression garment for a few days so that the skin adheres to the underlying tissues.
While there may be some scarring, it is likely to be minimal and not visible to others.