Can I Use Brachioplasty As an Alternative to Liposuction?

I would like to reshape my upper body. I have been told I don't have enough fat (less than an inch - 5'3" and 125lbs) to do fat transfers or liposuction and would like to take away the extra fat on my upper body, specifically my upper arms/armpits. Since liposuction is not an option, can brachioplasty take off the extra fat around my arms? What would the risks involved be? Thank you for your responses.

Doctor Answers 6

Armlifting Candidate?

Although it is not possible to give you precise advice without direct examination,
arm lifting is a 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.  One of the keys to success with this operation is keeping the resulting scar line as “hidden” as possible.  I tried to keep the scar hidden along the inferior aspect of the arm when the arm is raised perpendicular to the torso.

I hope this helps.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

ARM LIFT (Brachioplasty) Best option for you

Removing the fat around your arm with a brachioplasty would give you a nicely shaped upper arm.  Do consider carefully the long scar that  from the armpit to the elbow.  It may be possible to do a shorter scar but this depends on loose skin and how much there is.  Since you did not mention loose skin, I would try exercising by  weight lifting to reshape the arm and leave the surgery option for the time when you are older and nothing helps to tighten the skin except to cut it off.  the long scar will show from the back when your arms are at your side but not when you raise your arms, unless you go to a surgeon that chooses to do the scar more into the interior.  

I hope this helped in making you decision and as always make sure you choose a board certified plastic surgeon.

Robert B. Winslow, MD (in memoriam)
Folsom Plastic Surgeon
1.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Can I Use Brachioplasty As an Alternative to Liposuction?

Brachioplasty actually does more than liposuction. Liposuction contours by taking fat out from under the skin and the skin then tightens. But if it is skin that won't tighten (your doctor can tell you this at your consultation) then it is better to do a brachioplasty which removes both the fat and the skin. The downside is the lengthy scar that runs down from the armpit along the arm where the arm lies against the body if you are standing. The scar sometimes goes all the way to the elbow.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 reviews

Arm Contouring With Brachioplasty Versus Liposuction

In a strict sense, brachioplasty is not a substitute for liposuction -- although both are contouring procedures.

Brachioplasty is used to treat excess skin on the posteromedial arm. Excess skin is excised and the remaining skin is tightened, with a scar placed along the medial arm. This provides an improved contour with less loose hanging skin; the skin envelope around the arm is tighter and better proportioned. Women are often able to wear short sleeves following brachioplasty because they no longer feel embarrassed by the floppy soft tissues hanging from their arms.

Arm contouring may be improved with liposuction alone, but only when the skin has enough elasticity to reshape and contour without leaving residual looseness.  Liposuction is ideally used to treat excess fat, when there is little or no excess skin. Liposuction can be used circumferentially on the arm to provide contour improvement; whereas brachioplasty removes only the redundant skin from the posteromedial arm.

Most patients who have had persistent fluctuations in weight, or a significant weight loss, need to have skin excision (brachioplasty) to remove the loose hanging skin. If there is excess fat and loose skin, liposuction can be carefully used in combination with brachioplasty for a better result.

Your surgeon should be able to describe the benefits or shortcomings of each of these procedures in relation to the type of arm skin and fat excess you possess, and the results you desire.

Best wishes, Ken Dembny

Kenneth Dembny, II, MD
Milwaukee Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Arm lift or liposuction

Thank you for asking about an arm lift (brachioplasty) instead of liposuction.

  • You may have loose skin and not fat under your arms.
  • If so, it can be removed
  • You may need a standard brachioplasty or a short scar arm lift.
  • Consult a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon to discuss your options, goals and what to expect. 

​Hope this helps. Best wishes!

Elizabeth Morgan, MD, PhD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Brachioplasty as an alternative to Liposuction...

Brachioplasty is an excellent procedure for removing extra sagging skin and fat under the arms.  The procedure is a nice trade off in that a thin incision line should replace the heavy extra hanging skin that used to be there. The risks with brachioplasty are minor and may include, bleeding, infection, and recurrence of sagging skin.  It is possible that the scar may be more visible, but with a properly performed procedure, the scar is usually a thin line on the undersurface of the arm.  Please be sure to discuss the risks further with a board certified plastic surgeon.

Shain A. Cuber, MD
Edison Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 85 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.