No one likes having flabby arms. If you have them, you might feel like hiding them with your clothes all the time.
There are also many who fail to lose their bingo wings or bat wings through diet and exercise. If that’s the case, an arm lift surgery is your best bet.
Keep in mind that no amount of exercise or diet can help you get rid of excess skin, which is mainly responsible for loose upper arms. That skin has to be excised, and it is only possible through surgery.
For even better results, patients may choose to combine other surgeries with their arm tightening surgery.
What Is An Arm Lift Surgery?
An arm lift, also known as Brachioplasty, is a cosmetic surgery that aims to get rid of excess skin and fat in the upper arms, anywhere between the elbow and the armpit. As a result, the upper arms are toned and contoured.
Excess fat or skin often results in hanging skin from the arms. You may be genetically predisposed to storing fat in your upper arm, or it may be a result of weight gain.
And since significant weight gain can permanently stretch the skin, you’ll have loose skin when you lose fat.
Many people who have lost weight either through diet, exercise, or bariatric surgery seek an arm tuck.
You may also want to undergo this surgery if your skin has lost elasticity as a result of ageing.
Depending on what’s responsible for your flabby arms (fat or skin), your surgeon will recommend a treatment plan accordingly. Usually, people get a tightening surgery with arm liposuction.
Who’s A Good Candidate For Arm Lift?
It is possible for you to undergo arm reduction surgery, if:
- You have achieved your ideal weight.
- You do not smoke.
- You want to improve the cosmetic appearance of your arms.
- You have rashes, irritation, blisters, inflammation, and other hygiene issues due to the extra skin folds around the upper arms.
In addition, your surgeon will ask about your medical history and take blood tests to ensure there are no pre-existing conditions that might make the surgery risky.
How To Prepare For Surgical Arm Lift?
Once you’ve decided to get the arm lift surgery, you will need to make the following preparations:
- Stop taking any blood thinners or NSAIDs.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol.
- Arrange help for household chores, childcare or pet care.
- Bring button-downs so that you don’t have to lift your arms to wear a shirt.
- Do not eat or drink anything after midnight (the night of the surgery).
These will help prevent any unnecessary delays in the surgery.
What Is the Procedure For an Arm Lift?
For a surgical arm lift, you’ll be administered general anaesthesia, so you won’t feel any pain during the procedure.
And depending on the extent of sagging and the target area, your surgeon will make one of the following incisions to cut out the skin:
- Minimal-Incision – A crescent-shaped incision will be made under the armpit, so the scar will remain hidden there.
- Inner-Arm Incision – It’s made along the length of the inner arm from the armpit to the elbow.
- Back-Arm Incision – This incision is made along the back of the arm (side) and can also extend from the armpit to the elbow.
If excess tissue is present in the chest wall, these incisions may be extended there as well. Once the surgeon has cut into the skin, the excess fat will be removed (it may be done through liposuction).
The underlying muscles may also be tightened through internal sutures. Once that’s done, the skin will be stitched back up. The entire procedure takes about 1-3 hours, but you’ll have to stay in the hospital for 1 day.
Keep in mind that some clinics offer what’s known as an “invisible” arm lift (it is sometimes also called a mini arm lift). This only involves the removal of fat through arm liposuction.
As the incision required for this surgery is less than 2 inches long, the scar is barely visible once it heals. That is why it’s called “invisible.”
However, liposuction alone won’t work if the flabby arms are caused by poor skin laxity.
But if excess fat is the culprit and your skin is elastic, it can give you good results. This surgical procedure takes about 1 hour.
What Are the Side Effects Of Brachioplasty?
An arm reduction surgery can cause the following side effects temporarily:
- Feeling of tightness/stiffness
Most of the side effects of an arm lift will go away after a few days to weeks (usually 2 weeks).
Some of the symptoms may peak 2-3 days after surgery, but they will start to get better after that.
However, as far as swelling is concerned, while most of it will subside after 6 weeks, you will have residual swelling for about a year.
You will also have scarring from the surgery, but it will fade with time. To minimise its appearance, your surgeon may recommend the use of silicone sheets/gels or bio-oil after the stitches have healed.
What Are the Arm Lift Complications?
Just like all other surgeries, an arm lift carries some risks. So, you may experience the following during recovery:
- Wound Dehiscence – The wound may separate while it’s healing. It can happen due to the reaction of the dissolvable stitches with the skin. Incisions made in the armpit, where bacteria thrive, can also result in this problem. This complication is fairly common and usually resolves on its own with proper dressing changes.
- Seroma – Fluid in the surgical area can accumulate, which can look like a swollen bump. Surgical drains can help decrease the risk of seromas, but they can still develop.
- Asymmetry – If unequal amounts of skin and fat are removed from each arm, asymmetry can occur.
- Infection – Any surgery that involves making incisions carries the risk of infection. Its risk is higher if you don’t follow the aftercare instructions.
Make sure you consult your surgeon (before doing anything) if you’re experiencing any of the above complications or feeling like your recovery isn’t going as expected.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From An Arm Lift?
You can resume normal activities 6 weeks after your arm tightening surgery. You can get back to work after 2 weeks (that’s also when you can start driving), but if your job is physically demanding, you may need to wait for 3-4 weeks.
Make sure you take your prescribed medicines and rest so that your body can heal. It’s okay to shower after 24-36 hours but consult your surgeon first. Also, during the first 2 weeks, you will be advised against lifting your arms up, even for wearing certain clothing.
You’ll also have to wear a compression garment for a few weeks (which you can only remove when showering or changing your dressing).
As far as exercise is concerned, you start walking during the first week after surgery. However, make sure to take it slow and easy.
Gradually increase the length and pace of your walk. It can also help with healing.
But you should not engage in any strenuous activity for 1-2 months. It can put tension on your wound and reopen it.
How Long Do Results of Brachioplasty Last?
The results of an arm lift are permanent, but gaining or losing weight in the future can also undo the surgery results.
Also, keep in mind that the skin becomes less elastic with age. Additionally, gravity will make it sag a little. But these effects won’t be as noticeable (depending on the age at which you had this surgery).
What Is the Aftercare For Arm Reduction Surgery?
For 2 weeks after the surgery, you should elevate your arms with pillows when sleeping. This will help bring down the swelling.
Also, when stepping out into the sun, make sure to apply sunscreen and keep the surgical areas covered.
The sun can easily burn and discolour your scar; it can even affect how quickly your wound heals. So, be careful.
Lastly, do not smoke as it can also slow down healing and keep in mind that drinking too much alcohol can also increase the risk of post-op complications. Therefore, practice restraint.
How Much Does An Arm Lift Cost?
Arm lifts aren’t covered by insurance or are usually available through the NHS. Privately, they will cost you £5,000-£7,000 in the UK ($5,000 in the US).
This price can vary depending on the surgical technique, the location of the clinic, and the expertise of the surgeon.
In Turkey, an arm lift medical travel plan costs £1,600 on average. So, you can consider getting this surgery in another country.
Following is a summary of the arm lift surgery:
|Skin is excised from the upper arms, fat is removed, and the underlying muscles are tightened.
|Permanent (visible after 1 year)
|Duration of Stay
|£5,000-£7,000 in UK & £1,600 in Turkey
|Generally considered safe, but there’s a risk of wound dehiscence, infection, seroma, and asymmetry
If you have excess skin and fat hanging from your upper arms, you can consider getting an arm lift.
Exercise and diet will not help you if the problem is excess skin since it needs to be cut out surgically.
As a result, you’ll immediately notice a change in the contour of your arms after the surgery. But you’ll only see the final results after a year when the swelling subsides.
Just remember that the results of the arm lift will stay with you for as long as you maintain a stable weight.
Otherwise, you may need to have another surgery. In any case, make sure to consult a board-certified surgeon, as they can create a suitable treatment plan for you.