What is an Arm Lift? 

An Arm Lift, or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure to remove loose skin and excess fat deposits on the upper arm in order to create a more sculpted, aesthetically pleasing arm.

Excess fat or skin distribution in the arm can be:

  • Natural, and a function of genetics 
  • Caused by weight gain (excess fat deposits)
  • Caused by weight loss (excess skin)
  • Caused by ageing as the upper arm skin becomes loose and flabby. 

An Arm Lift procedure, or brachioplasty, aims to tackle these conditions via liposuction and skin excision to leave a tight and smooth skin appearance.

What are the benefits of Arm Lift?

The benefits of an arm lift are both cosmetic and psychological, and include:

  • Firmer, leaner, more slender arms 
  • Tightened arm skin and elasticity 
  • Restored, redefined figure 
  • Sculpted, shapely arms
  • Ability to wear tighter cut clothes/swimwear
  • Improved sense of emotional wellbeing

Before & After Gallery

Arm Lift/Arm Reduction Results

Click here to view our gallery of Before & Afters and Arm Lift/Arm Reduction results

How does an Arm Lift procedure work?

A brachioplasty employs two key surgical techniques to achieve the desired results; liposuction and skin excision.

Liposuction targets excess fat deposits in the upper arm, and adjacent areas. Small, unobtrusive incisions are made in the armpit and on the back of the elbow. Your surgeon will then carefully remove the fat from around the arm.

Adjacent areas of fat deposits that can be treated at the same time include:

  • the shoulder
  • armpit 
  • back
  • breast
  • forearms
  • back of the elbow

Skin Excision targets the loose skin that hangs down underneath the arm, commonly known as 'Bingo Wings'. This may be occurring in the patient as an existing condition, or caused by the removal of excess fat deposits following liposuction. The skin is removed in a long ellipse shape from the back of the elbow, along the line between the inside and back of the arm, curving into the armpit. It is important to consider the position of the scar to ensure it is as subtle as possible.

These two surgical procedures are often combined since liposuction procedure will often result in excess loose skin that requires excision. Liposuction only is most common in younger patients whose skin is still relatively elastic, whilst skin excision only procedures are most common among skinnier patients who have experienced meaningful weight loss already.

What are some of the main aesthetic considerations for your surgeon?

Two key considerations are symmetry and scarring.

  • Surgical experience and careful planning are required to produce a symmetrical result. It is common to see patients who have had unequal amounts of skin and fat removed with unnaturally shaped arms, of unequal size. There are even occasions where patients have required to have skin put back, using skin grafts. This is a key consideration at the outset 
  • A skilled surgeon can minimise arm lift scars and place them expertly in locations where they are not visible to the eye. Arm lift scars take some months to settle in, but your surgeon will try and confine the scarring to the armpit; this involves excising the skin from the armpit area, and then pulled up the arm skin towards the armpit. Full concealment of arm lift scars may not work among all patients, particularly among patients with excessive surplus skin or fat deposits

Who is suitable for Arm Lift?

Arm Lift surgery or brachioplasty is a highly personal procedure and should only be undertaken if you feel strongly that you would benefit from either the fat reduction and contouring properties of an arm lift
You may be a suitable candidate for arm lift surgery if:

  • You are in good psychological and physical medical health
  • You are at your ideal body weight
  • You have a positive outlook and realistic expectations of what can be achieved via surgery
  • You are seeking to remove excess fat deposits and cellulite in your arms
  • You are seeking to remove excess skin (or ‘bingo wings’) in your arms
  • You are seeking to improve the shape and contours of your arms
  • You are looking for long lasting results 

What to expect

CONSULTATION 

The first step for all of our arm lift patients is to meet with the surgeon we feel is best placed to perform your procedure for a consultation. At the consultation you will be able to discuss with your surgeon what your hope to achieve from the procedure, as well as discuss in detail what may or may not be possible given your existing anatomy.

Your surgeon will take you through the options available to you, and which is the most preferential for you given your stated ambitions. Having established this, several key measurements will be made and standard clinical photography will be taken.

Some questions you may want to ask your surgeon include:

  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
  • Can I achieve the results I am asking for?
  • What will be expected of me to get the best results?
  • Do you have before-and-after photos?
  • How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
  • What scars will I be left with?
  • Will I be in pain after the surgery?
  • How soon after an arm lift can I return to work?

Finally a comprehensive discussion regarding risks and complications will take place, alongside a discussion regarding what to expect in the post procedure and recovery phase. Your previous medical history will also be recorded (including previous surgery, medications, allergies etc.) and an assessment of your fitness for surgery.

If your surgeon feels you are a good candidate for surgery, you are then invited to consider whether you would like to proceed for surgery or otherwise following a two week 'cooling off' period.

Within this period you are welcome to come in and discuss your potential surgery with your surgeon as many times as you like.

PRE-PROCEDURE

If you choose to proceed with surgery, the next time you come into the Clinic after your final consultation will be the day of your procedure. Before admission the following behavioural changes are recommended / required:

  • In the 6 weeks before your procedure we recommend smoking is discontinued as patients who smoke have a higher risk of healing more slowly and complications (see FAQs)
  • In the week before your procedure you must cease taking Aspirin or any medication that contains Aspirin
  • In the 6 hours prior to surgery you must not consume food or any drink, other than small sips of clear fluid (e.g. still water, black coffee, black tea) which are allowed up to 2 hours before admission

DAY OF THE PROCEDURE

On the day of your procedure we ask that you arrive for your admission an hour before the agreed start time of surgery. At this point a nurse will come and record blood pressure and other relevant vitals, you will meet with your anaesthetist and your surgeon who will make the final mark-ups.

Before surgery, the surgeon will measure up the arms to assess how much fat and/or skin needs to be removed. The arms are then photographed, with the skin markings, in various positions, front and back. The procedure can be carried out under local anaesthesia, but more usually under our form of general anaesthesia called T.I.V.A. (Total Intravenous Anaesthesia) and takes between one and two hours.

The arms are bandaged after surgery to reduce bruising and you will feel stiff and mildly uncomfortable as you bend your arms. Most of the sutures used are dissolving to avoid stitch marks, but there may be a few to remove, particularly in the armpit, a week after surgery. Bruising lasts about 3 weeks.

POST PROCEDURE & RECOVERY

You should not feel much pain during the procedure, but you may have some for a few days or weeks afterwards. You'll be given painkillers if you need them.

Following the procedure, you will recover in our ambulatory recovery rooms for between two to three hours, dependent on the scale of the procedure. Once our specialist nursing team are happy that your initial recovery is complete and you are safe to return home, you will be allowed to leave the Clinic accompanied by a friend or member of your family.

Once home you will have access to our dedicated on-call nursing team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This team of specialists are dedicated to your comfort and pain control, and are there to field any questions you may have in the immediate post operative phase.

We ask that you come in and see our nursing team 1 week after surgery to ensure your incision sites have been properly reviewed. At this juncture we also recommend you meet with one of our on site aestheticians to discuss ongoing treatment to support the healing and scarring process.
We ask that you come in to see your surgeon after 6 - 8 weeks for a final check up.

What can I expect from my surgery?

Why come to the Cadogan Clinic for an Arm Lift

  • Leading liposuction unit in the country, founded by first surgeon to perform liposuction in the UK 
  • Hand – picked team of liposuction surgeons, trained under pioneer of procedure in the UK
  • Day case surgery, go home the same day 
  • Low infection risk, standalone specialist cosmetic unit 
  • Dedicated 24 / 7 nursing aftercare team to assist recovery  

What are the side effects and risks

Arm Lift surgery is a safe procedure, but it is common after a brachioplasty to experience:

  • bruising and swelling
  • temporary numbness
  • a small amount of scarring 

As with all surgical procedures, brachioplasty surgery carries some risk and it is possible that you might experience:

  • Nausea 
  • Bleeding or Infection 
  • Poor healing of incisions and scarring
  • Seroma 
  • a collection of blood underneath the skin (haematoma)
  • death of fat tissue (fat necrosis) or embolism

Your surgeon will discuss these risks comprehensively at your consultation and explain how likely these risks and complications are, and how they would be treated.

Frequently Asked Questions

An arm lift is a surgical procedure designed to reduce the size of the arm and eliminate fat deposits in the arm, as well as remove a surplus of loose arm skin.

The choice of procedure depends on the exact condition (excess fat deposits, excess loose skin or both) but will involve either liposuction, skin excision or both.

The procedure is carried out as a day case procedure usually under General Anaesthesia, and takes between 1 – 2 hours.

There is typically bruising for up to 3 weeks after which you can happily wear short sleeves, and an end results at about 3 months. Scars are insignificant and managed by our Scar Management programme.

You may be suitable for an arm lift if you have:

+ Excess fat deposits in your upper arms
+ Loose sagging skin in/around your upper arms
+ Inelastic, lax arm skin
+ 'Bingo wings'
+ Unshapely, untoned arm contours
+ Disproportionate arms relative to rest of figure

An arm lift focusses on the upper arm area, but adjacent areas of fat deposits and excess skin can also be treated at the same time

These include:

+ the shoulder
+ armpit
+ back
+ breast
+ forearms
+ back of the elbow

One of our highly trained, elite plastic surgeons will perform your arm lift.

All our liposuction specialists have been hand picked by Mr Bryan Mayou, our founder, and the pioneer of liposuction in the UK.

There are three techniques which are used, with technique relating to the size and scale of the operation at hand. Where possible more minimal techniques are preferred, as this reduces the length of surgery, the amount of scarring, and the amount of downtime and extent of recovery

+ Mini brachioplasty (minimal incision) - your surgeon will make a single incision in the shape of a crescent under the armpit. This may be extended in a 'T-Line' into the arm. This technique is most suitable for people with minimal excess skin and fat in the upper region of the arm, and will result in less scarring than a standard brachioplasty. Your surgeon will hide the scar within the armpit

+ Standard brachioplasty (inner arm incision)- this technique involves making two separate incisions: one from the armpit to just above the elbow, between the biceps and triceps, and another on the back of the arm from the armpit to just above the elbow along the tricep region. It is most suitable for those with a moderate amount of excess skin and fat. Your surgeon will remove the excess skin and fat, then tighten and reshape the underlying tissues. The scar is well hidden when the arms are held at the side, and this technique is thought to achieve a more comprehensive result than the mini-brachioplasty

+ Extended Brachioplasty – the incision for an extensive brachioplasty runs from the elbow, through the armpit, and into the side of the chest. After your surgeon makes the incision, they will remove excess skin and fat, then tighten the underlying tissues. They will either remove the excess fat directly, or use liposuction to remove it. As this technique results in maximal scarring that extends to the side of the chest, surgeons do not often use it.

Your consultation is designed to be perfect opportunity to ask all the pressing questions that you have to your consultant, ahead of making a decision on surgery. It is vital that you are fully informed before making your final decision, and the consultation is therefore a key part of the education and decision making process.

Some good examples of questions to ask, include:

+ Am I a good candidate for this procedure?
+ Do you think my goals are realistic given my existing anatomy?
+ Will I require a single surgery or multiple surgeries?
+ Can I see some before & after pictures of arm lift procedures you have done previously?
+ How long will my recovery take?
+ Is it true that Cadogan offers 24/7 on call nursing service?
+ What can I expect in terms of bruising, swelling and scarring?
+ What are my options if I am unhappy with my results?

No special preparation is required although it is generally advisable to do the following before any surgery

+ Stop smoking. Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend that you stop smoking before surgery and during recovery.
+ Avoid certain medications. You'll likely need to avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, which can increase bleeding.
+ Arrange for help during recovery. Make plans for someone to drive you home after you leave the hospital and stay with you for at least the first night of your recovery at home.

Arm Lift surgery should take between one and two hours.

You should start to see results in the days following surgery. These will fully start to appear from around the six week mark and improvements will be ongoing for the first 12 or so months.

Your results will be long lasting and permanent so long as you maintain your body weight following surgery.

The ageing process will however continue from your new post procedure point, and skin laxity will gradually increase over time. The ageing process will start from a far better point however, so it should be many years before this becomes noticeable again.

You will not feel any pain during arm reduction surgery as you will be under the influence of anaesthetic.

Immediately following arm reduction surgery, you may experience discomfort but any pain should be tolerable.

Your surgeon can provide painkillers for this and the majority of patients will no longer need them a few days after arm reduction surgery.

Arm reduction surgery is straightforward, safe surgery although you should be aware of all the risks and complications before going ahead with arm reduction surgery.

Some are listed above in the body of this web page, but your surgeon at your will go through these at length and in full at your arm reduction consultation

Downtime is fairly minimal following an arm lift and you should be back at work within a week or two, and resuming normal exercise in 4 – 6 weeks.

If you have undergone Liposuction, you will feel a little bruised and stiff for a few days but there is no restriction on movement. Any dressings can be removed in a couple of days or when they come loose, and stitches removed in a week.

If you have undergone skin excision you will have some dissolving sutures and probably some permanent sutures to be removed in 7 to 14 days. Dressings vary, but any bulky ones can come off in a couple of days. You should exercise to maintain full movement of the shoulder and arms, but this need not be violent to stress the sutures.

Yоu may соntіnuе tо experience ѕоmе mіld, реrіоdіс dіѕсоmfоrt and ѕwеllіng durіng thіѕ tіmе, but ѕuсh fееlіngѕ аrе nоrmаl. Sеvеrе pain, bleeding or swelling should bе reported tо your surgeon.

You will receive more detailed advice from your surgeon ahead of surgery

A brachioplasty, or arm lift, is sometimes referred to as arm reduction surgery as this procedure involves reduction in the size and volume of the upper arm following liposuction and the excision of excess skin.

Of all the terms for a brachioplasty, arm reduction surgery captures the sculpting and volume reducing essence of the operation best, and hence its use.

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