American Society of Plastic Surgeons
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What you need to know about arm lifts


arm lifts need to know

Public figures like Michelle Obama and celebrities like Jennifer Aniston are admired far and wide for their sleek, toned arms. It's no wonder – having slim, sculpted arms can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself. Unfortunately, even with a healthy diet and regular exercise, it can be difficult to get rid of stubborn arm fat.

But increasingly, people have been turning to plastic surgery to help them achieve the beautiful, red carpet-worthy arms they dream of. In fact, plastic surgeons performed over 18,000 arm lifts in 2019 alone.

What can an arm lift do for your appearance?

Everyone has seen the dreaded "batwing." It's the excess fat and/or loose skin on your upper arms that jiggles when you wave and adds inches to your arms when they're resting at your sides.

No matter how trim you are, it's possible to have this "batwing" effect happen to you. This is because it's not always about muscle tone. If you have loose skin or stubborn fat deposits, diet and exercise cannot fix that.

An arm lift, or brachioplasty, can tighten, lift and smooth the skin and tissues of your arm for a more sleek and sculpted shape. It can also remove fat deposits that aren't responsive to exercise.

Are you a good candidate for an arm lift?

The best arm lift candidates meet the following criteria:

  • Have a stable, relatively healthy weight
  • Have significant amounts of loose upper arm skin
  • Have no serious medical conditions
  • Have realistic expectations for the procedure

It is important to remember that an arm lift is not an alternative to weight loss and exercise, so be sure to ask a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon about what your results will likely be.

What can you expect during an arm lift?

An arm lift is an outpatient procedure that typically takes just a couple of hours.

During the surgery, you will be placed under general anesthesia. The surgeon will make an incision either on the back or inside of the arm. Excess fat may then be surgically removed, or the surgeon may use liposuction. He or she will discuss this with you beforehand.

The surgeon will also tighten the underlying tissues and shape them into more aesthetically pleasing contours. If there is a lot of excess skin, the surgeon will remove it in a way that minimizes scarring as much as possible.

Finally, he or she will smooth the remaining skin over the new contours of your arm and close the incision.

What will your recovery be like?

You will have some bruising and swelling following the procedure, but you will begin to see noticeable improvement right away. There may be lingering discomfort for a week or two, but it will fade as you heal.

Your surgeon will give you specific care instructions, and you will have a compression garment to wear to minimize swelling and speed recovery. You should refrain from strenuous activities, especially those that include bearing weight or lifting your arms.

There will be an incision scar, but your surgeon will ensure that it is as small and unobtrusive as possible. Full recovery usually takes about two weeks.

Choosing a plastic surgeon

When you're deciding on a surgeon to perform your arm lift, be sure to choose a plastic surgeon who is board-certified and operating out of an accredited medical facility. These factors will ensure that you are getting the best, safest and most advanced care possible.

You can achieve your ideal arms with plastic surgery

When diet and exercise can only get you so far, an arm lift can be a great way to get the smooth and sexy arms that you've dreamed of.


The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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