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Will Tightening Arm Skin Leave Severe Scars?

I have lost about 100 lbs and I have super loose arms and arm-pit skin to the point that I look like an 80 year old woman and I am only 23.

I really want to get rid of it but am weighing the cost of having a major scar down my arm verses the extra loose skin. Is the scar as bad as people make it out to be? Is there something called and arm pit tuck to tighten the skin between the chest and arm pit?

Doctor Answers 42

An Arm Lift is right for you when the idea of the scar is more attractive to you than the loose skin you have

A scar will, ideally, fade over time.  A scar can be carefully camouflaged with makeup, if needed.  But that loose skin can only be hidden by wearing long loose sleeves.  The time to have the arm lift surgery is when the idea of the scar is more attractive to you than continuing to hide the loose hanging skin.  And, yes, there are methods to remove the extra skin near the armpit as well.

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Scarring after brachioplasty

If you have a large amount of loose, hanging skin in the arms, the only way to really tighten it is to undergo a brachioplasty procedure. The scars are long and typically do not heal as nicely as scars elsewhere. They are placed on the under surface of the arm so they are not visible when your arms are down by your side. It is definitely a trade off -- scars for better arm contour. I would advise you to look at lots of pictures of brachioplasty scars so that you can judge for yourself.

Not all scars are unsightly but in general, these scars are more noticeable than others. If you decide that you do not want to have long arm scars, you can opt to have a more limited form of brachioplasty where the scar is kept in the armpit. However, there is a limit to how much tightening can be done with this shorter incision.

Caroline Min, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Scars from a brachioplasty

The scars from a brachioplasty are not great looking narrow scars because the skin in that area is very thin and has poor elasticity. Therefore thy tend to spread wider than other scars. Nevertheless, if you have enough extra skin that it really hangs down the scar will be a good trade off in the opinion of most patients. If your deformity is only moderate or mild, the scar might be worse than the skin excess.

Weight loss and loose arm skin

Congratulations on your weight loss! "Brachioplasty" is the name of tightening of the arm skin surgically and there are different techniques based on how much loose skin and the elasticity of the skin and it's location. The scars secondary to a brachioplasty tend not to heal as well as scars elsewhere in the body. The surgeon tries to place them toward the inside of the arm so they are not seen when your arms are by your side. The scars are a trade off for the reduction in the loose skin. I have had some success with tightening of the arm skin with laser assisted liposculpture (both SmartLipo and ProLipo). You may want to get several opinions, one from the surgical side and the other from the laser assisted side since not all plastic surgeons use the laser. Or find a plastic surgeon who has experience in both techniques and he can examine you and determine which may be best for you based on your goals after weighing the pros and cons of each. If you are looking for improvement and are willing to accept some tightening without the scars, laser assisted treatments may be the way to go. They can also be repeated in about 6 months. Good luck.

Theodore Katz, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Arm Lift Scar

Thank you for your question regarding arm lifts or brachioplasties.
First of all, congratulations on your massive weight loss. Great job!

Based on your history and photo, you would benefit most from a longitudinal arm lift. During this procedure, upper arm skin is excised and fat is removed with liposuction. The incision and resulting scar extend from the armpit to the elbow. I believe you are asking about the “arm pit tuck”, which is called a crescent brachioplasty. This surgery removes skin and fat only from the armpit and upper arm. It does not remove the skin and fat you are holding in the middle one third of the arm. Based on your history and pictures, a crescent or even modified T brachioplasty or arm lift, will not give the results you are seeking.

All arm scars fade with time. Most of my patients are very happy with their arm lift results. I believe post-operative arm compression, silicone cream, and silicone strips are very important to final arm scar results.
Usually, the longer the scar, the better the results because more skin and fat can be removed. If you cannot tolerate the arm scar, do not have the surgery.

Good luck with your quest for skinnier arms.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely, Dr. Katzen

J. Timothy Katzen, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

Will Tightening Arm Skin Leave Severe Scars?

This often depends on the patients ability to scar and the techniques used.  I prefer to place the arm lift scar on the medial aspect of the arm. This typically heals quite well. If I worry about thicker scarring, I have the patients start with silicone sheeting.  If patients have a lot of subcutaneous fat in the arm as well as skin, I prefer to do liposuction first and then the skin excision to follow.  This prevents would separation and allows for a nicer, thinner scar in most patients. 

Arm Lift Scars

The procedure to tighten arm skin is called brachioplasty. The scar from this procedure typically extends from under the arm almost to the elbow depending on the laxity of the skin and degree of involvement along the length of the upper arm. However, the scar usually cannot be seen when your arms are down by your side. Many people say that the scar is a good trade off and better than loose hanging skin. A limited incision for an 'arm pit tuck' will yield a limited result except in certain patients and this will need to be assessed by your plastic surgeon to determine how much improvement can be expected.

Mini arm lift

mini arm lift or mini brachioplasty helps correcting excess skin after massive weight loss.

the effectiveness is less than the standard surgery.

it helps remove the upper arm skin excess without treating the elbow area.

it is a good compromise, for the hidden scar

Jacques Haddad, MD
Montreal Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Will tightening arms again leave unsightly scars

in the plastic surgery literature 40% of patients who undergo a standard full length brachioplasty develop unsatisfactory scars. When scars can be placed in the axilla or armpit the scarring is much less noticeable. In my opinion, a brachioplasty scar does not have to be unsightly. We have state of the art sutures and incision taping devices designed to decrease scarring. In my practice we use barbed sutures to obtain a better closure and use Prineo taping systems which make a great difference in the final scar quality. Also, postoperative silicone sheeting is very effective. And postoperative conservative erbium laser resurfacing diminishes the scars over several sessions of laser treatment. Scars can also be camouflaged with make up and ingenious designs of clothing. In any event, the scar is much more attractive than the loose hanging skin. Best of luck in your endeavors. 

James Fernau, MD, FACS
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Will Arm Lift Leave Bad Scar?

Congratulations on your weight loss! That's a huge accomplishment.

Consult with a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to find out what your best option would be. He/she will need to examine you in person to see what your best option would be.

An arm lift ("brachioplasty") is best for skin that hangs like wings when the arms are held out parallel to the ground. However, the procedure is not a treatment for poor skin tone.

In your photo you are pulling your skin to create a "wing." If at rest your arm skin doesn't hang, than an arm lift probably won't give you a dramatic change. An in-person consultation would be necessary to see if you would benefit from the procedure.

A brachioplasty leaves a scar up and down the inside of the upper arm. How good or bad it is depends on the patient's genetics as well as on how much skin is removed. If enough skin is removed to the point that the incision is under tension, the scar will widen and possibly thicken.  

A new product called Embrace is effective in promoting good scars by taking tension off the incision. It works well for arm lift scars, beginning about two weeks or so after surgery.

Click on the link below to see a good arm lift candidate and her post-op result.

All the best.

Heather J. Furnas, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.