Arm Lift / Scarring. Would I get the full benefits with an under arm incision? (Photo)

I'm going abroad soon for arm lift surgery. I originally wanted just liposuction but was told that due to skin laxity I could get better results with an arm lift. But because of my skin tone I am scared of scarring, but the surgeon said that he could make an incision under my arms so from the pictures would I get the full benefits of an arm lift with an underarm incision, if not what is scarring like on black skin as I do not want a scar going down my arm and afraid of keloids. Thanks

Doctor Answers 7

Arm Lift Using a Limited Incision

I understand your concern regarding an incision from armpit to elbow, but unfortunately I believe that is the trade-off for making an improvement in the contour of your upper arm.  Your photos show loose upper arm skin, which will only be worsened with liposuction.  A limited incision approach to an arm lift may only make a subtle improvement in the contour of the upper arm near the armpit.

Scars associated with an arm lift do tend to be less attractive than scars elsewhere.  Though some patients heal with beautiful, thin, inconspicuous scars, other patients develop wide, raised, or thickened scars in patchy areas or along the whole length of the scar.  I  advise the use of topical silicone after surgery (sheets or gels such as Kelocote) to optimize a patient's chance of achieving a good scar (talk to your surgeon about their recommendations first before using any product).

Your goal photo does indeed have a beautiful arm, though probably not achievable for most women.

As other surgeons have mentioned, I strongly advise against going abroad for cosmetic surgery.  Though foreign locations may offer attractive pricing, it is not worth the increased risk of complications of surgery as well as the issues associated with taking care of complications that could arise once you are back home.  This could result in a substantial increased expense making your ultimate out-of-pocket cost much higher than if you'd just found a qualified surgeon in your area.

A limited incision for brachioplasty?

Judging by your photographs it appears that he would need a full brachioplasty in order to achieve the full benefits. A limited procedure and your case will result in a limited outcome.Many patients are understandably concerned with the potential of a less than ideal scar resulting from a brachioplasty. Careful planning and placement of the incision, however, can often significantly improve the appearance of the postoperative scar. For that reason it would be best to consult a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery who performs brachioplasty on a regular basis in order to have the best opportunity for an optimal outcome. Good luck.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 107 reviews

Arm Lift / Scarring. Would I get the full benefits with an under arm incision?

Thank you for your question.  Since the extent of your skin and fat excess extends across your entire arm, a limited incision arm lift would leave you with a poor result.  I would caution you about going abroad for cosmetic surgery since surgery may not be as regulated and surgeons not as properly vetted as they are in the US.  They may offer a lower price but sometimes you get what you pay for.

Zachary Farris, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Be a realist

You will not get results of your wish picture with any approach.  You should be concerned about scar.  Limited upper arm tuck is ineffective. You should accept your limiting factors and accept improvement that comes from liposuction.  

Vasdev Rai, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Arm Lift / Scarring. Would I get the full benefits with an under arm incision?

You have excess skin and fat the length of the upper arm. The best results will require liposuction and an incision from armpit to elbow. Anything less will be a waste of time and money. 

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews


Based on your picture, I don't think you would get a great result with a scar that is limited to the underarm area. My other concern is that you state you are going abroad for the surgery. Most patients who do this, do it because the procedure is less expensive when you go outside of the United States. There are a couple of traps in this situation. It is more difficult to check out the credentials of the surgeon abroad, and to check out the facility where the surgery is going to be done. Both of these are very important. The other is that if you do have complications, you would likely wind up paying a surgeon in the United States more to deal with the complications than you would to have the brachioplasty surgery done. If I were you, I would consult with a Plastic Surgeon in the US that is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. 

Sonya Merriman, MD
Valdosta Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

Scarring after Brachioplasty

Thank you for your question.

The scarring from a Brachioplasty can be unpredictable. Some patients heal very well and have a tiny thin line that heals nicely, others develop slightly widened scars that stay red/pink and do not fade. As you know being African American does increase your risk of developing keloids, so I would definitely put some thought in to this before making any decisions. Good luck.

Francis Johns, MD
Greensburg Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 53 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.