Arms Too Thick for Arm Lift?

Is it ever possible that there is too much soft tissue for am Arm Lift? There is quite a bit of sagging from an 80lb weight loss, but the PS I met with was hesitant to do the lift. I can't find any info on what would disqaulify you for an arm lift. Her concerns are damage to the lymp system and nerve damage. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

Doctor Answers 10

Armlift arm reduction brachioplasty arm liposuction massive weight loss excess skin

The short answer is "no". Whatever your arm size, is it can be reduced. Typically, after massive weight loss, an arm lift or more accurately,  an arm reduction procedure is usually covered by your insurance. The procedure is also called a brachioplasty. The procedure usually takes 2 to 3 hours under general anesthesia. I believe your best results are achieved by performing arm liposuction and the arm reduction at the same time.  Postoperatively, arm compression is important to minimize swelling and flatten scars.  The only reason I can imagine your plastic surgeon may have thought twice is perhaps if you had breast cancer surgery.  During this procedure, armpit or axillary lymph nodes are removed. This may make an arm reduction or brachioplasty a little more risky; however, it does not mean you cannot have an arm reduction.  I would make sure you find a plastic surgeon who is experienced in massive weight loss patients. I would also be sure to see many "before and after" pictures of arm reductions or brachioplasties in massive weight loss patients. I hope this information helps. Good luck with your weight loss journey.

Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Heavy Arms Make Armlift Challenging But Possible

Thank you for your question.  It is in fact correct that heavy arms with too much fat make an armlift a difficult procedure alone.  In order to address this issue an armlift with adjunctive liposuction can be performed.  This is a very safe and effective procedure.  You should consult with a surgeon very experienced with this combination and with body contouring after weight loss.  There is hope!  Best wishes.

Robert F. Centeno, MD, FACS
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Am I a Candidate for an Arm Lift?

- Many patients are left with a considerable amount of excess skin of the upper arms after losing weight.  Sometimes, in addition to the excess skin, patients are also left with excess fat as well.

-In cases where I observe that a generous amount of fat remans in the arms, I will perform liposuction of the arms at the same time as the arm lift (brachioplasty) procedure.  This allows me to improve the arm contour to a greater degree.  Alternatively, in cases where little subcutaneous fat remains, I will not add the liposuction procedure.

- As far as damage to lymphatics and nerves that are problemetic for patients long-term, I have found this to be rare.

-Definitely find a plastic surgeon board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery to evaluate your arms.


Best of luck!

Joshua Cooper, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Arms Too Thick for Arm Lift?

A photo would help!

I am not sure what the surgeon meant. Usually with this amount of weight loss and the request that you have there is plenty of lax skin. If not however, liposuction can often be done either as the first of a two stage operation, or at  the same setting.  Seeing another consultant would make the most sense.

Thanks and best wishes.


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

Arm lift after weight loss

Congratulations on your weight loss!  After losing a significant amount of weight, the upper arms can become loose and saggy.  Sometimes, the upper arm skin is very thin with no fat. Other times, it is loose but still has a significant amount of fat. When the upper arm contains fat, an upper arm lift can safely be combined with liposuction to:

1) remove fat and make the arms thinner, and 2) tighten the upper arm skin.  

Like any other surgical procedure, there are potential risks with this surgery.  That is why you should visit with a board certified plastic surgeon to have a detailed conversation about your situation before deciding what is best for you.

I hope that helps and wish you all the best!

James Knoetgen, III, MD
Fresno Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Arms too thick for brachioplasty?

There are several ways to complete a brachioplasty procedure. If liposuction is not used along with the removal of the excess skin, then the results will be significantly limited when excessive fatty tissue remains in the arms. The good thing is that liposuction can be aggressively performed on the arms with safe and effective results as a part of the brachioplasty surgery. I use liposuction on all of my patients whether they have heavy arms or not to make sure that the skin can be easily removed from the underlying tissue in an effective way. There are always risks with any surgery, and injury to the lymphatic system is one of them with brachioplasty. The risk, however, is very low if the procedure is done carefully and heavy arm tissue should not necessarily increase your risk of this happening. 

Wm. Todd Stoeckel, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 84 reviews

Arm lift (brachioplasty)

Congratulations on your weight loss.

I'm unsure why you might be considered unsuitable for an arm lift and would suggest that you seek a second opinion. There is always a risk of damage to the lymphatic system and nerves with an arm lift, although this risk is usually less of a concern to patients than the scars that are associated with this surgery.

If you still have more soft (fatty) tissue in your upper arms than is desirable then this can be reduced with liposuction at the time of a brachioplasty. It is important that you discuss the placement of your scars in detail with your surgeon, so that these can be placed in the best position for you based on your usual activities and clothing.

Good luck!

Jill Tomlinson, MBBS, FRACS
Melbourne Plastic Surgeon

Arm Lift Candidate?

Thank you for the question.
You should be very proud of your significant weight loss;  unfortunately, patients who have lost this much weight tend to have “loose skin”  that is a constant reminder of where they have been. If you are not at your long-term stable weight, it would be best for you to achieve this way prior to undergoing arm lifting surgery.

Arm lifting is an great procedure to improve the contour of the arms and remove  redundant skin and adipose tissue;  the downside is a relatively high rate of unsatisfactory scarring and the need for revisionary surgery.

It may behoove you to visit with  additional well experienced  board certified plastic surgeons.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,486 reviews

Arm Lift and Lipo

Congratulations on your weight loss, you should be very proud.  Improving arms is a common area focus of many weight loss patients.  Many not only have excess skin, but may have a considerable amount of remaining diet resistant fat.  Thorough liposuction of the upper arms at the time of the brachioplasty (arm lift) is most often needed.  Certainly, if your surgeon is not comfortable addressing this area, it is reasonable to consider a second opinion.  lhc

Lee H. Colony, MD, FACS
Lansing Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Arm lift candidate

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. The results are extremely satisfying. I would recommend that you visit with more than one board certified plastic surgeon in your area to discuss your options in more detail, especially if one had already expressed concern with you being a candidate.

Young R. Cho, MD, PhD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 35 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.