Brachioplasty, also known as an arm lift, is considered a cosmetic surgery designed to help patients improve how the underside of their arms look. It usually involves the surgeon removing excess skin and fat in the area between their elbow and armpit. The skin that remains in the area will be lifted back over the newly contoured area to help it look more toned and fit.

As we age, sometimes our skin gets looser and tends to sag. This excess skin is often unsightly and easily juggles any time you move your arms. It can be embarrassing for anyone who has this problem, as well as cause odors. It’s not just for older people, either and you may want to go see a plastic surgeon. If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, the odds are good you’ll also have loose skin hanging from your arms. It can be damaging to your body image, even if you feel better from losing weight.

You can help tone your muscles and make those areas of the body tighter, but once the excess skin starts drooping, it has really lost its elasticity which cannot be recovered. Simply put, once it droops, it’s going to droop. The only way to fix it is by getting a Brachioplasty to help remove that skin and reshape the underside of your arm. This is a great way to help improve your body image by removing saggy skin.

Risks of Brachioplasty Surgery

Let’s take a quick look at all the different risks and complications that can happen with Brachioplasty surgery.


Usually, the incision points where they cut under the skin to remove the excess will leave a scar. These scars are permanent, but that doesn’t mean you should worry about how you look. Often times, the incisions are made in areas that aren’t easily visible. That means you can still wear sleeveless shirts without too much worry.

In some cases, the scars are a little more pronounced. This is rare, but raised and/or red scars can appear after the surgery and would also be permanent. The surgeon can use a corticosteroid injection or other types of treatments and creams to help reduce any lasting scars to heal properly can be as minimal as possible.

A Change in Arm Symmetry

As you can imagine, it’s going to be nearly impossible for the surgeon to shape your arms in perfect symmetry. When you remove skin and it leaves behind scars, the rest of the skin is going to react to it. It’s just not possible for the surgeon to give you perfectly symmetrical skin placement. It will still look a lot better than it did before the surgery, but you should be prepared for this part of us.

A Change in Skin Sensations

Another thing to consider about arm surgery is how the skin and tissues heal after the surgery is complete. Once the excess skin is removed, the surgeon will reposition and re-sculpt your arm to make it look as normal as possible. As a result of this, there can be some damage or other issues caused to the superficial sensory nerves. If this happens, there may be temporary numbness until the arm is healed completely.

Stitching Problems

Another complication happens with Brachioplasty is the stitches that are used to help secure the remaining skin. The surgeon will try to reshape that skin for your arm after the excess skin is removed. That means I have to use stitches to close up the wound. Usually, the stitches are underneath the surface of the skin. As a complication, they can rise to the surface and cause all sorts of inflammation and even infection. If this happens, you might need another surgery.

As with any surgery, complications do occur from time to time. You should be prepared for infections and even the risk of bleeding after the surgery has been completed. You may also want to avoid this type of procedure if you are allergic to anesthesia, as this will be heavily used during the skin removal.

Who Should Avoid Getting a Brachioplasty?

A doctor might warn you against getting an arm lift if:

  • Your weight goes up and down.
  • You’re morbidly obese.
  • Have a difficult time healing from wounds.
  • You smoke.

How to Get a Brachioplasty

In a lot of cases, there are some health concerns present which would require you to get an arm lift. For example, if you’ve lost a lot of weight, you can have many pounds of extra skin hanging off your body. This extra skin can be irritating, cause infections and even pain as a lot of excess moving skin can cause friction. In this case, you would speak with your main doctor about getting a referral to having the surgery done.

If it’s for purely cosmetic reasons you would see a plastic surgeon to get a consultation. The plastic surgeon would go over your medical history and asked several questions about any medical problems or issues you’ve had in the past. They will also ask you about any medications currently on and do a physical exam to see what the best course of action would be for you.

The surgeon may also take pictures of your underarms and anywhere else you getting skin removed. They will remain a part of your medical record. The surgeon will then explain to you what he plans to do as well as sharing any complications and risks that might happen. Some plastic surgeons even have technology that will allow you to see what your arms might look like after the surgery has been done, including before and after pictures of previous patients.

What to Expect

Where you get your surgery may vary. The surgeon might have their own facility or they might schedule an appointment at a hospital for the removal. In most cases, you receive general anesthesia which would knock you out for the surgery. On a rare occasion, they would use local anesthesia with some sedation. You shouldn’t be awake for this type of dramatic surgery.

Before your surgery, it’s important for you to take several steps to protect your health. The first is that you quit smoking. Smoking can inhibit healing. You will also be asked to stop taking certain medications. The surgeon will go over those with you as you discuss your medical history. Other drugs, like aspirin, can increase bleeding risk and are not encouraged.

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