The Arm Lift


Arm lifting techniques have evolved significantly over the past few decades. While a “traditional” incision that extends from the arm pit to the elbow still has the most power to correct an arm with significant skin laxity, liposuction alone, or liposuction combined with minimum incision skin tightening are reasonable options for a large number of patients. Even when the longer incision is necessary, refinements in skin healing techniques and years of running a skin healing laboratory at Cornell Medical Center gives Dr. Cross the ability to make the appearance of the incision minimally noticeable.

Brachioplasty. Before and After Treatment Photos - female front view, patient 3BEFOREAFTER

Before and after pictures showing a full incision Arm Lift *Results May Vary

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The attachments between the muscles of the arm and the skin are weaker than those same attachments in other areas of the body. As a result, the arm skin tends to loosen and fall away from the underlying muscles. With it comes a layer of fat that, for many people, is resistant to changes through diet and exercise. What has been a challenge for surgeons when performing arm lifts is how to maximize skin tightening in an area of the body where scars cannot easily be hidden. Fortunately, opportunities to hide scars do exist. Many patients have a natural shadow in the area between the biceps and triceps on the inner side of the arm where an incision can be discretely hidden. Furthermore, many patients have most of their skin excess and looseness in the upper one half of the arm. For these patients, an incision can be hidden in the recesses of the armpit.

Brachioplasty. Before and After Treatment Photos - female back view, patient 3BEFOREAFTER

Before and after pictures showing a full incision Arm Lift *Results May Vary

View Before & After Gallery


The decision on the approach most appropriate for the patient is based on the patient’s goals as well as their anatomy. If skin laxity is minimal but fullness is present, a three step liposuction procedure can be used to sculpt and define the arms. When skin laxity is limited to the upper half of the arm, removal of the skin is performed using an incision that is placed in the crease of the armpit. Special suturing techniques are used to insure that the end result leaves the armpit crease looking as natural as possible. When skin laxity extends along most or all of the upper arm, excess skin removed along this entire area. While the incision is longer, this technique has the power of limitless correction and allows a large amount of crepey, thin, wrinkled skin to be removed, leaving the thicker, healthier skin in its place.

Eversion suturing techniques help to hide all incisions. Patients who choose to undergo the full length approach ultimately find that a well healed, well camouflaged incision is more acceptable than the skin wrinkling and or skin excess that it corrects.

Because the procedure is limited to skin removal and, when needed, sculpting of underlying fat, it is a very well tolerated procedure. The procedure usually takes approximately one hour to perform and can be completed using just numbing medicine, with no other anesthesia. Most patients prefer to be asleep for the procedure, however. In this case, patients receive anesthesia by vein, and once asleep, have a soft balloon is put in their mouth to prevent them from snoring during the procedure. The balloon is removed prior to waking up at the end of the case.


Patients wake up after the procedure wearing a garment. The garment adds gentle support and comfort. It remains on for two days, at which point, patients remove the garment to shower. No further dressings are necessary. The incisions are covered with a water tight glue and all stitches are dissolvable. Pain is minimal after arm sculpting. Most patients return to normal activities within a few days and can start exercising is less than a week. Arm exercises are restricted for the first 2-3 weeks, but use of the arms and hands to reach for items and, for example, to wash and brush ones hair, can begin immediately after the procedure. Results are apparent almost immediately, and all incisions gradually fade over the first few months.

This page and its contents have been reviewed for accuracy and approved by board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Kevin Cross


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