close up of a woman's arm in white tank top displaying under arm fat

Sagging, loose skin under the arms is a common cosmetic concern, and one that tends to worsen with age as our skin loses elasticity. Arm exercises such as bicep curls and tricep dips can add a lot of muscle to your arms. While toned arms make sagging skin less apparent, it does not eliminate excess skin. For this reason, many people eventually opt for an arm lift.

Also known as a brachioplasty, an arm lift removes excess skin and fat between the armpit and elbow to leave your arms looking slender and more toned. A very popular form of plastic surgery, an arm lift can raise self-esteem and self-image by helping you correct issues that cannot be addressed through lifestyle changes. 

If you are considering an arm lift, we will provide a brief overview of the procedure below to help you decide whether it is right for you.

Who Is A Good Candidate For Arm Lifts?

Arm lifts are designed for adults with loose, sagging skin in their arms who are in good overall health and at or close to their ideal weight. If you smoke, you will need to quit prior to undergoing surgery.

Before an arm lift, you will have a consultation with a plastic surgeon. You will discuss your medical history, lifestyle, and expectations regarding the surgery. You will also have to undergo a medical exam and routine blood work.

This process helps ensure that you can undergo the procedure safely and that an arm lift is the best means to meet your goals.

What Happens During Arm Lifts?

An arm lift can be performed under general or intravenous anesthesia and can be done either in a hospital or outpatient surgical facility.

During an arm lift, your surgeon makes an incision on the inside of your upper arm, removing excess skin and subcutaneous tissue. The remaining skin is closed leaving an improved contour with much reduced laxity. In some cases, your surgeon may also remove excess fat via liposuction. The incision is closed with stitches and surgical tape or skin glue. 

What Is Recovery Like?

Most patients can resume the majority of daily activities within six to eight weeks. It can take up to six months for scarring to blend into the surrounding skin, during which time you may need to use topical creams. Scarring should continue to improve for two years.

Directly after surgery, you will be fitted with dressings, bandages, and possibly compression garments to reduce swelling. Your surgeon will provide you with detailed instructions on cleaning and caring for any dressings. You may also be prescribed oral antibiotics to prevent infection, as well as pain medication.

You will need to refrain from lifting your arms above your shoulders for three to four weeks and avoid physical activities – like arm workouts – that could undue strain on your incision for four to eight weeks.

Everyone’s recovery path is different. Make sure you talk to your surgeon about your precise timeline. You will have regular checkups during recovery to monitor your progress. 

Are Results Permanent?

Arm lift results are very long lasting, but your skin will lose some elasticity with age. This can cause some sagging to reappear over time. However, you can maintain results longer by staying at a healthy and stable weight.

Are There Any Potential Complications

Every surgery comes with the risk of complications, but arm lifts are considered a low-risk procedure. Some patients may experience permanent scarring, asymmetry in arm shape, and minor changes in skin sensation. Some of these issues can potentially be addressed with follow-up treatment.

In rare cases, more serious complications can occur. Seek medical help immediately if you experience an irregular heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pains, a fever, or redness of the skin.

The best way to avoid complications is to work with a reputable surgeon and follow all aftercare instructions closely.

Arm Lifts: The Bottom Line

Building muscle through weight training can lessen the appearance of sagging skin on the arms, but it cannot completely correct the issue. An arm lift can help you surpass these limitations and finally achieve the look you want. The procedure can be especially helpful for those who are dealing with age-related loss of skin elasticity.

Ready to get started? Leif Rogers is an Ivy League-educated, board-certified plastic surgeon and a standing member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. If you’re considering an arm lift, get in touch with his team to schedule a consultation.

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