Arm Lift: Cost, Risks, Recovery


Arm lift, or brachioplasty, is a cosmetic surgery to improve the appearance of the under portion of your upper arms. It is done by removing excess hanging skin from the underarm and reshaping the under portion of the upper arm – from the armpit area to the elbow.

Fluctuations in weight, aging and heredity can cause your upper arms to have a drooping and sagging appearance. This condition cannot be corrected through exercise. Arm lift surgery may be right for you if the underside of your upper arms is sagging or appear loose due to excess skin and fat.

Ideal candidates

In general, you are a good candidate for an arm lift if you:

  • Experience significant upper arm skin laxity, no matter how much you exercise or diet
  • Are in overall good health
  • Do not smoke
  • Have stable weight


Generally, the cost for an arm lift includes the surgeon’s fee, anesthesia fee and operating room fee. According to statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost for an upper arm lift is around $4,482.

Also, a surgeon’s fee can vary based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used and the geographic office location.


No surgery is risk free. Risks of arm lift include:

  • Infection
  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Hematoma
  • Asymmetry in the shape of your arms
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Loss of skin sensation
  • Swelling of the hands
  • Seromas, or fluid accumulation

Your surgeon will discuss these risks fully with you prior to your consent. It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.


Preparing for your arm lift surgery will include discussing a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle with your plastic surgeon. In your consultation with the surgeon, he or she may ask you to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
  • Stop smoking for at least two weeks before surgery
  • Take certain supplements before your surgery to reduce swelling and bruising
  • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding

Surgical steps

Usually, an arm lift is an outpatient procedure. Depending on your treatment plan, you can expect the surgery to take about two hours. During the procedure, your surgeon will follow these steps:

  • General anesthesia
  • Making an incision on the inside or back of your upper arm
  • Removing excess tissue and fat from your arm, often through liposuction
  • Reshaping the contours of your arm tissue
  • Closing the incision, using traditional or dissolvable stitches

Once you recover from the anesthesia, your doctor will send you home with instructions on how to care for your arm as it heals. You should arrange to have someone drive you home and stay with you for at least 24 hours after your procedure.


Because your range of motion will be limited, initial downtime from an arm lift can be several weeks. If you have a desk job, remember to plan for at least two weeks off from work. You won’t be able to lift your arms above your shoulders during this time, and your doctor may also advise you not to drive for at least two weeks. If your work is more strenuous or involves a lot of lifting, you can expect to take three or four weeks off to recover.

Your doctor may ask you to wear dressings or bandages applied to your incisions, and your arms may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling following surgery. Furthermore, a small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid.

The smoother, tighter contours that result from arm lift are apparent almost immediately following your procedure. But most people won’t see the full results until the bruising and swelling goes down. This can take a few weeks.

Keyword: arm lift.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.