Are there alternatives to correcting saggy arms without getting an arm lift? (Photo)

I've lost 113lbs so far and I have lots of work to be done to my body that I didn't want to also include my arms. I exercise all the time especially weight train. My arms have gotten smaller and I have muscle under the skin but I don't have fat, just skin on my arms. If there's no alternatives, how is the pain while healing compared to other surgeries? Also how long is recovery time and how long does it take the scar to diminish?

Doctor Answers 6

Arm lift questions and alternatives.

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Congratulations on losing 113 pounds! You're amazing. With that much weight loss, I suspect there are few options to arm lift that can tighten the arms to the same level. I use a posterior approach to the arm lift which has a lower pain level and a speedier recovery, in my opinion, than the frontal approach.  The posterior arm lift technique also places the incision in the back of the arm, and not in the front. This makes the incision more acceptable. You can see the results of the arm technique I use in the photo link below. It is very difficult to see the incision from the front. I always prescribed a few days of narcotic medications and find that patients can be off pain pills after that point.  I also use a long-acting anesthetic called Exparel and stopped using pain pumps years ago because Exparel seems more effective and requires no tubes for it to work. It is simply injected into the area. I hope this helps! Best, Dr. Aldo

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 216 reviews

Sagging arm skin arm lift arm reduction brachioplasty weight loss

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Hello,Thank you for your questions regarding an arm lift.  Thanks for your history and pictures. From you history and pictures, you have excess arm skin.  The only way to remove excess arm skin is with an arm lift.  The medical term is called a brachioplasty.  Under general anesthesia, an arm lift takes about three hours to perform.  The recovery period is about two weeks.  Typically, after an arm lift,   the arm pain is minimal.  Most patients take pain medication for five to seven days.  All scars take about two years to mature fully.  To minimize arm lift scars, I would suggest compression garments for six weeks.  I would also recommend silicone cream and silicone strips to be used on the arm scar for at least six months.   Thank you for your questions about an arm lift or brachioplasty.  I hope I have answered all your questions regarding your arm lift.  If you have any other questions about an arm lift, arm reduction, or brachioplasty, please contact my office. Sincerely,Dr. J. Timothy Katzen

J. Timothy Katzen, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 254 reviews

Arm lift surgery

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Congratulations on your amazing transformation.  It sounds as though you've done everything you can to improve the appearance of the arms.  Unfortunately residual excess skin normally has to be surgically excised in order to achieve a better contour. Brachioplasty or arm lift surgery is one of the most frequently requested body contouring procedures performed today.  The demand for this procedure has increased more than 800% since 1997.  This is the greatest percent change of any of the commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedures  Much of the increase in popularity is due to the growing number of patients who undergo massive weight loss. Brachioplasty is normally performed as an outpatien. In performing this procedure an incision is made on the inside of the arm extending from the elbow into the armpit.  Sometimes it is necessary to extend the incision further into the armpit and sometimes past it.  Utilizing this incision excess skin is removed and the wound is closed.  It is very important to position the scar properly so that it is concealed as much as possible.  A well-placed incision should result in a scar that is only visible when the arms are raised.  It is very important for the surgeon to discuss the resultant scar thoroughly with the patient preoperatively.  Very commonly this scar takes a longer time to undergo the full healing and maturation process than scars in other parts of the body.  Maturation refers to the process whereby the scar becomes less apparent.  Brachioplasty scars commonly take up to 2 years to fully mature.  Immediately after the operation compressive Ace wraps are placed from the fingers up to the armpit.  These can normally be removed within 24-48 hours postoperatively and replaced by elastic compression sleeves commonly worn by athletes.  These can be purchased relatively inexpensively at any sporting good store.  Most patients wear these for up for up to 4 weeks postoperatively.  No vigorous activity or strenuous activity is recommended for 3 weeks postoperatively.  Complications following a well planned and well executed brachioplasty are uncommon.  They may include however wound infection or wound breakdown.  Is very important to follow the directions of your surgeon postoperatively to ensure the best results.  In the last several years improvements have been made in the performance of brachioplasty (arm lift) resulting in better results and more acceptable scars.  These improvements includes more precise incision placement, better closure techniques and use of post operative scar reducing systems.  With greater attention to these details the benefits of arm lift surgery can be achieved with more acceptable scarring than in the past.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 133 reviews

Arm lift

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Hello and thank you for your question.  Congratulations on your weight loss.   Based on your photograph, you may benefit from liposuction or a short incision arm lift.  The best way to decide which procedure to do is with an in-person consultation.  Make sure you specifically look at before and after pictures of real patients who have had this surgery performed by your surgeon and evaluate their results.  The most important aspect is to find a surgeon you are comfortable with. I recommend that you seek consultation with a qualified board-certified plastic surgeon who can evaluate you in person.

Best wishes and good luck.

Richard G. Reish, M.D.
Harvard-trained plastic surgeon

Richard G. Reish, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 174 reviews


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We use Vaser ultrasound liposuction and/or smart lipo laser for extra skin tightening of the arms. This usually avoids skin excision scars in the majority of patients. Additional skin tightening such as Thermi Tight RF can be added later if needed. In a small percentage, a small skin excision  may be needed in the future, but usually less than a large Brachioplasty right away.An exam and consultation with a plastic surgeon who performs these procedures is recommended to confirm you are a candidate as well as discuss your options and expectations. 

Arm lift

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Thank you for your pictures and question. Looks like you will need an arm lift to remove the excess skin,recovery period would about two weeks,please consult with a board certified PS,good luck!

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.