Last fact-checked: 26 September 2020
Thanks to the natural aging process coupled with often poor lifestyle choices, our skin becomes less elastic over time. For others, things may have become suddenly looser after dramatic weight loss. Either way, one of the most common areas we see flaps of loose skin appearing are the upper arms.
Also known as brachioplasty, an arm lift can get rid of these so-called “bat wings” by surgically removing skin and fat cells, sometimes in conjunction with liposuction.
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If you have sagging skin between the elbow and underarm that is not responding to exercise, then you may want to consider an arm lift. It is also important to be in good general health, as well as have realistic expectations about what you can achieve with this surgery.
The procedure is designed to remove fat, tighten loose skin and transform arms to look more youthful and elegant. There are a few different techniques that can be used to lift the arm; the exact option will be dependent upon how much skin and fat needs to be removed, and whether your skin elasticity is good enough to shrink back around the muscle.
If you do have good skin elasticity, liposuction might be a good choice. For this procedure, a small incision is made under the armpit and a thin tube inserted. A solution is pumped in which liquefies the fat before being sucked out again via the same tube.
If your skin is not elastic enough to shrink back, liposuction is often performed together with brachioplasty surgery. The three common methods are:
This technique removes excess skin from the armpit to the elbow and uses a long incision so that the surgeon can remove fatty tissue and excess skin. The remaining skin is pulled tight and stitched closed.
Limited incision brachioplasty:
If you don’t have too much fatty tissue near the armpit (but just loose skin), the surgeon may use this method. Typically, an incision is made below the armpit so that excess skin can be removed; the rest of the skin is pulled tight toward the armpit before being stitched back together.
This method may be used if you have fatty tissue extending into the side of the chest wall. The standard incision is extended to include this area.
As is expected, you will be stiff and sore for a few days after your surgery. However, compared to other cosmetic surgery procedures, the recovery time is relatively short–and most people need only a week or so off work (depending on the nature of the job). It is also worth noting that:
This varies depending on the country and the complexity of the work required. As an example, the average price of an arm lift in the United States is $6,000; this is compared to:
[Please note: the above-mentioned average prices are estimates based on data at the time of writing.]