Arm Lift Incision...can It Be Placed in the Armpit? (photo)

I have an armlift scheduled in August and I wanted to know if the incision can be done by the arm pit horizontally or if it has to go from the armpit vertically to the elbow? I want to have this procedure but I am terrified that my arms will worse with the scars...

Doctor Answers 10

Arm Lifting and Scars?

Thank you for the question and picture. Although I cannot give you specific advice, some general information may be helpful to you.

Arm lifting surgery can be an excellent operation for the right patient.  The ideal patient has loose skin/adipose tissue of the upper arms ( sometimes patients called the area “bat wings”),  especially common after significant weight loss.  This operation is best done when patients have achieved a long-term stable weight.


Understandably, one of the main concerns/downsides of the arm lift surgery is a resulting scar. Careful planning of the operation is critical  in executing the operation and determining the final position of the resulting scar.  In my opinion, a scar that ends up along the very lower border of the upper arm is the best tolerated scar,  since it is hard to see from the front or back when a patient's arms are by his/her side.

You may find it attached link helpful as you do your research.

Best wishes.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,498 reviews

Arm Lift Incision...can It Be Placed in the Armpit?

    If the laxity extends all the way to the elbow, the longer incision is needed.   The incision in the armpit can only remove a small amount of redundant skin right at the axilla.  If you had this surgery, you would not notice much of a difference.  The scar can be placed in a variety of locations (inside of arm, back of arm).  Find a plastic surgeon with ELITE credentials who performs HUNDREDS of body contouring procedures each year.  Kenneth Hughes, MD Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

Treatment Options For Excess Upper Arm Skin

It's not unusual for patients to develop redundant saggy upper arm tissue after a significant weight loss. When this situation arises, a variety of treatment options are available. The specific choice will depend upon the patient's aesthetic goals and anatomic findings.

Although your pictures are helpful, it's virtually impossible to make a specific recommendation without a physical examination. In the absence of an examination, your pictures suggest a significant amount of excess skin. This excess skin will almost certainly require a brachioplasty with an incision along the inner aspect of the arm. In some cases, an axillary incision will be necessary, as well.

It's important to realize that this type of procedure involves a series of trade-offs between excess saggy arm skin and additional scarring. For this reason, it's tempting for patients to opt for procedures that have less scarring. Under these circumstances, patients may be left with residual skin sag.

If you're considering this type of procedure, it's important to thoroughly discuss these issues with a board certified plastic surgeon. This surgeon should be able to formulate a treatment plan that addresses your anatomic findings and achieves your aesthetic goals.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Arm lift options

Thank you for your question. With age and/or weight changes, the upper arms can hold a lot of excess fatty tissue and develop skin laxity. An arm lift procedure helps to contour the upper arms by reducing excess skin and fat. The incisions can be hidden in the armpit for those with a moderate degree of laxity or along the vertical length of the upper and inner arm for those with more skin excess. You will see an improvement with an axillary incision alone in your situation.  However, you would see a greater improvement when you extend the incision out towards the elbow.  I also offer a hybrid approach where based on your T-shirt length, I use an axillary incision with a shorter vertical length incision.  This would still allow a more skin retraction than an axillary incision alone.
The results are extremely satisfying. I would recommend that you visit with a board certified plastic surgeon in your area to discuss your options in more detail.

Young R. Cho, MD, PhD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Arm lift arm liposuction brachioplasty arm reduction torsoplasty crescent arm lift crescent arm reduction

Dear Mimi877,
You have Type 3 arms.  This means you have excess arm skin and fat that goes to the elbows. An armpit or  axillary incision will not have much effect on the skin and fat around your elbow.  For Type III arms, the best treatment is arm liposuction combined with an incision that goes from the armpit to the elbow.  The arm lift or arm reduction procedure takes approximately three to four hours.  The arm lift or brachioplasty is performed best under general anesthesia. After surgery, you will need to wear compression garments or 4 to 6 weeks. This will help minimize swelling, and assists in flattening the scar. All scars fade with time. Most patients are significantly happy with their arm reduction surgeries.
I hope this helps to answer your arm lift questions.
Dr. Katzen

J. Timothy Katzen, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 206 reviews

Arm Lift Procedures

Arm lift procedures (brachioplasty)  can be performed through limited incisions in the armpit (axilla) or can be designed with an incision from the armpit to the elbow.  The axillary incision alone approach is for minimal skin laxity that is located close to the armpit.  A plastic surgery evaluation will determine your options.

Craig Mezrow, MS, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Arm lift surgery

Your concerns are valid and that is why I show pictures of the scars to allow the patient to make up their mind if it is right for them. The contour improvement is so great that patients are willing to accept the scars. Find a doctor you trust and review their photos. Not all doctors perform this type of surgery so be particular in finding a board certified doctor in your area.

Good Luck!

Gregory T. Lynam, MD
Richmond Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Arm tuck scars

Traditionally, the incisions for the arm tuck extend from the arm pit to the elbow. Some do qualify for a shorter scar that does not extend to the elbow. If only an axillary incision is used, there will not be enough skin removed. The actual length of your incision can be determined during the consultation. laser liposuction may give some improvement, but will not give you the tight arm you are wanting.

Connie Hiers, MD
San Antonio Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Arm lift options

By the photo provided, you need a brachioplasty that extends to the elbow, otherwise the surgeon will not be able to contour your arm nd remove enough skin to make a difference.

Albert Dabbah, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Arm Lift Incision...can It Be Placed in the Armpit

Only an occasional arm lift patient is a good candidate for an axillary only incision. You have far too much laxity for this approach, and will need an incision down the arm. These scar are visible if not covered by clothing, and I usually tell patients that they will probably not wear short sleeve shirts for a year. The improvement has to be worth the scars. You can best get informed in the setting of a consultation.

All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 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.