Minimal Incision Brachioplasty

I just recently lost about 45 pounds and I noticed that I have minimal sagging and stretch marks on my arms. I inquired to a plastic surgeon about this and she said because it is minimal and I am so young (20 years old), it would not be worth the scar. Is there any solution to my problem that is not as severe? Would any among Mini Brachioplasty, arm toning with exercise, or laser skin tightening be a good option for me? Any advice would help seeing as I am very insecure about this and would like to handle it now while I am young.

Doctor Answers 33

Start with toning your arms through exercise

The arm lift or Brachioplasty leaves a long scar extending from axilla (armpit) to the elbow. As with any cosmetic surgery it is a trade off: is the scar worth the improvement in contour? For women who have lost a lot of weight and have a lot of hanging skin (bat wings) on their arms, the scar is very worth it. For women who have only a little loose skin the scar would not be worth it. At your age, with only a little loose skin, I think with some exercises to tone up the arms ( think Michelle Obama!) you will probably see quite an improvement and enjoy your new contour.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Sagging arm skin

Thank you for your question regarding sagging arm skin. It is difficult to answer your question fully and accurately without pictures. If you want a surgical solution, I would suggest a crescent or limited T incision brachioplasty. In either case, a minimal amount of skin and fat are removed. The scar is usually well hidden in the axillae. If you do not want arm surgery, I would suggest exercise. I have not seen conclusive results from the arm laser.

Good luck with your quest for skinnier arms.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely, Dr. Katzen

Mini Brachioplasty

If you have minimal skin laxity and excess fat you may be an excellent candidate for SAFE Liposuction with or without a mini brachioplasty which is a small scar located in the axilla which excises the majority of the sweat glands, as well. In my patients, it has been very effective in reducing fat and simultaneously reshaping the arm to a smooth cylindrical shape which most women desire.  We usually treat the scar postoperatively with a combination of silicone gel treatments with erbium laser resurfacing and obtain excellent results with this combination. 

James Fernau, MD, FACS
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Sagging arms need arm lift

The best indication for an arm lift, and the most gratifying are those who have lost a lot of weight.  The skin is usually flabby and overstretched.  It is simple and effective to remove the skin that has been stretched past its capacity.  No Liposuction, or other noninvasive modalitiy will help the skin become more firm around the arms.  The length and type of the incision will vary depending upon the location and the amount of fat in the arms.  The cost will also vary by geographic locale.  Most will run anywhere from $3500-$7000.  I would advise you to visit with a board certified plastic surgeon to have treatment recommendations specific to your concerns.

You have options

The key point in the decision is the condition of the skin elasticity. If you have minimal laxity, you may do well with liposuction, or perhaps ultrasound assisted liposuction. This will get rid of excess fat, while encouraging the skin envelope to shrink to the smaller form.

A mini-brachioplasty, as I define it is one that places theincision in the axilla (arm pit) at a right angle to the long axis of the arm. A full brachioplasty extends the incision down the upper arm toward the elbow. I usually do lipo in both instances.

The mini will only tighten skin/tissue from elbow to axilla, while not addressing the skin that hangs down.

You have choices, but you must be evaluated, and surgical planning must take into account what you wish to accomplish, and what you are willing to put up with. The full brachioplasty leaves a visible scar, but if you are OK with that, you may be happy with the result.

I have enclosed a link to my old web site for you to see what is possible.


Incision Length Needed for an Arm Lift


Good afternoon.  Great questions!  

The length of an arm lift (brachioplasty incision) is directly proportional to how much excess sagging skin is present. A good way to think of this is in a similar manner to a tailor or seamstress; if you need your clothes taken, then a seam would need to be open to remove the excess garment. While it is crude comparison, it is pretty accurate. If you have excess sagging skin that runs from the armpit to the elbow, then an incision will need to be that long. If you have small excess skin confined to the upper portion of the arm, then it is reasonable to have an incision confined to just the upper portion of the arm.

The converse holds true, if you had excess skin down the entire length of your arm and you made just a “mini” incision then two things will happen:
  1. Only a “mini” amount of skin will be removed and you will see a “mini” result; and likely you will not feel it was “Worth” the cost of the surgery.
  2. A “cinch” stitch or purse-string stitch will be placed via the “mini” incision; and going back to the analogy to a seamstress or tailor, the purse-string stitch will cause a garment to “gather” or bunch up… and the same will happen to your skin… you will see wrinkles and ripples; and, again, you will likely feel it was not “worth” the cost of surgery.
I think if you truly have excess skin, then arm toning exercises and/or laser skin tightening will not work. It may improve it to some degree; and I think it is a reasonable place to start; but I don’t think you see significant results from it.
Is the scar “worth” the surgery? That is very difficult question; that only you can answer. The surgery will leave a scar; and arm lift scars are sometimes noticeable. I think you should be prepared and look at ALL types of scars patterns. I have some before and after photos that show patients with all types of scars. I hope that helps and best of luck with your decision.

Matthew J. Nykiel, MD
Ontario Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Minimal Incision Brachioplasty

The decision to have a brachioplasty is a personal one. You should seek the guidance of an experienced plastic surgeon to see if you are a good candidate. Some people do well with ultrasound liposuction to rid the arm of fat and recieve modest skin tightening. A mini arm lift can camoflauge the incision in the arm pit, but it is not as effective as a full brachioplasty. Good luck.

Treatement option for skin excess

standard, minimal or no scar?

one rule in plastic surgery, more scar is more results.

patient with minimal  scar, should expect lesser result.

thats why we reserve those surgeries to minimal deformities.

no scar, with non invasive procedures are rarely effective or cost effective.

so the short scar surgery can be a good compromise

Jacques Haddad, MD
Montreal Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Minimal incision brachioplasty, option?

Since you are young and did not have a massive weight loss, you probably have good skin elasticity.  A limited incision (mini brachioplasty) may just be ideal for you.  I would recommend toning your arms first and then decide if you still want surgery.  Often a toned arm is attractive and you will not feel insecure about any loose skin.  If not, then you should discuss the mini brachioplasty with your plastic surgeon

John Zavell, MD, FACS
Toledo Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Brachioplasty scar can be hidden in the armpit

Because you are young and had some weight loss, it might be possible for you to have the skin removed in the armpit. This works to tighten the upper arm only, though, so if you have loose skin that extends down towards your elbow, you probably will need the full lift.

Anne Taylor, MD
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 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.