Arm lift surgery – what are my options?

Arm Lift/brachioplasty

An upper arm lift, or brachioplasty, is the surgical procedure aimed to reshape the upper arm, tighten loose skin and remove fat that often creates a ‘bat wing’ appearance under the arm. Surgically removing the excess skin caused by weight loss or natural aging can address loose skin that extends from the underarm area to the elbow. Liposuction is often used in combination to achieve the best results.

The upper arm is usually stretched by either loss of skin tone, or increased fat, or both. Once this skin is stretched, it may never retract to its original state. Genetics, muscle tone, fat between the skin and muscle and general skin tone will determine how the skin retracts after being stretched.

However, sagging skin is not the only problem – many women complain that they have fat deposits in their upper arms that will not shift, no matter how much exercise or dieting they do. These are often referred to as ‘tuckshop arms’. This excess fat and loose skin associated with flabby arms can cause the arms to chafe against the body and can also make wearing some clothes difficult.

Like many operations, an arm lift (brachioplasty) needs to address several components to achieve the best results. Addressing one component without considering the others is likely to provide a sub-optimal result. Depending on the individual patient, Dr Kevin Ho will make the incision along the inner arm from the armpit to just below the elbow so the scar is concealed when the arms are beside the body. A smaller incision is made just in the armpit where possible.

Types of arm lift surgery:

Full brachioplasty

A complete approach to brachioplasty involves the removal of excessive upper arm fat by liposuction and then tailoring the overlying skin.

Incisions will extend down the inner aspect of the arm to just above the elbow. This surgery will address the ‘tuckshop’ arms as it will remove unwanted fat and skin.


This approach is recommended for patients who have minimal excess skin and good skin tone. The incisions are shorter and hidden in the armpit. The advantage with a mini-brachioplasty is with shorter incisions and surgery times.

However, a mini-brachioplasty cannot to the same extent address skin and stretch marks that can be achieved with a longer incision, or the full brachioplasty.

Liposuction only

For most patients, they will not obtain adequate from having liposuction only. Without removing any skin damaged by stretch, the most likely result is an arm that is less fatty but more droopy. Liposuction can be combined with an arm lift, but for most people, an arm lift will provide better results than having liposuction only.


Your skin tone, position of fat, muscle position and tone, and any prior scars will help determine which technique will give you the best results.  Additionally your needs such as ability to take time of work and sports and the importance of scar position and length will need to be considered when planning your arm lift.

Dr Ho’s preferred technique that combines the shortest scar possible, with liposuction, which creates a toned upper arm to match proportionately with your forearm. This technique enables him to create a smooth tapered result, with as little tension as possible on the tissues to enable as little down time. By preserving the nerves and blood vessels, this will ensure better healing, shape and minimal scarring.

For more information or if you would like to book an appointment please call (02) 9650 4900 or complete the online registration details on our website.



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