Ask a doctor

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 39

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 28 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

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 39 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 26 reviews

Will tightening arm skin leave severe scars?

Arm lift surgery, also called brachioplasty, is extremely effective in contouring the arms.  It will remove the loose skin and allow you to wear short sleeves or sleeve-less outfits without the excess tissue interfering.  There is a scar that is produced from the elbow to the armpit in order to contour the arm.  Frequently this scar widens and may need revision.  The scar also fades over time.  However, the majority of my patients are happy enough with the contour improvement that they would gladly accept  the risk of a wider scar.

John Zavell, MD, FACS
Toledo Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Scarring Following Brachioplasty

                  It’s not unusual for massive weight loss patients to develop redundant upper arm tissue. When this occurs it can represent a significant aesthetic deformity that can adversely impact self-esteem and self- image. When sag of this magnitude is present the majority of patients require a full brachioplasty.

                  This procedure involves making an incision that extends from the axilla to the elbow. This approach removes excess skin in the vertical and transverse dimensions. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to hide scars in this location. For this reason, brachioplasty patients are often dependent upon their wound healing characteristics for a good result. In other words, when wounds heal nicely, scars can be imperceptible, conversely some patients will have noticeable scars.

                  The vast majority of patients tend to heal these incisions nicely and the aesthetic results are excellent. Unfortunately, some patients form exuberant scar tissue which can be very noticeable. When this situation occurs, these scars represent a significant aesthetic deformity which is difficult to hide. Under these circumstances scar revision and long sleeve shirts may be the only options available for patients.

                  In the post-operative period, various maneuvers can minimize scarring. These include massage, topical creams and silastic. If you’re considering this procedure it’s important to understand the potential for scarring and its irreversible nature. The majority of patients have excellent results, but occasionally patients are unhappy with scarring and request scar revision. 

Armlift Scars

Depending on the type of scars that you have and depending on your genetics, a scar can heal quite nicely. It does take about a year to see the final result.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 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.