Can I reduce my arm circumference at all without surgery? (Photo)

Sometimes my arms don't fit into long sleeves. I realize that an arm lift would be easiest and most effective, but I just can't afford the downtime. Besides, cutting me up for vanity's sake would leave me with two huge scars, which I'd be self-conscious about, so I need a Plan B. I don't hope to look like a toned athlete or anything but are there any options that would reduce my arm circumference and make them look better?

Doctor Answers 14

Smaller arms without surgery

There are two choices for arm reduction with an in-office procedure. A small liposuction procedure with awake anesthesia will have the most improvement. A series of Coolsculpting sessions will also reduce your fatty layer. The liposuction is going to cost you less than the Coolsculpting.

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Coolsculpting vs surgery

 Thank you for sharing your photos and for your question. Surgery would be the best option to reduce the circumferential volume and skin laxity of your arms. However, coolsculpting is a non-invasive way to reduce some of the volume in the arms without surgery. It won't do much at all for your skin laxity. I would recommend visiting a board-certified plastic surgeon that has  coolsculpting in their practice so you can have an informal discussion of the pros and cons of each of procedure.

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

Non-surgical arm reduction

Well, admittedly, you present plastic surgeons with a quite a challenge what with you wanting a nice improvement without surgery on arms that present like yours:  you have a lot of fat on the arms and also a lot of loose skin.  Considering your question then I will not even mention any surgical approaches.  Losing additional weight by way of diet and exercise may reduce the circumference of your arms but you will be left with more loose skin.  There are external modalities that are being touted as being able to reduce underlying fat deposits and also to tighten skin.  Worth trying but, professionally, I take such claims with about a pound of salt....  Considering your desire to reduce circumference without surgery, however, then they are certainly worth investigating.

J. Howell Tiller, MD
Miami Beach Plastic Surgeon
3.5 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

Nonsurgical or Minimally Invasive Options for Upper Arms

There definitely are nonsurgical treatments that can reduce arm circumference. There are 2 aspects to consider, fat reduction and skin tightening. Exilis radiofrequency treatments address both aspects. SculpSure is a new laser FDA approved for fat reduction in the abdomen and flanks. It is currently being tested for use in the upper arms for fat reduction. There is no downtime with either of these procedures!

Minimally invasive surgical options include SmartLipo, which addresses the excess fat and also encourages skin tightening. With this procedure a compression sleeve and massage therapy is recommended following the treatment.

Cristina F. Keusch, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Improving arms without surgery

Thank you for your question about non-surgical arm lifting.

  • Your photo suggests that you have excess fat and excess skin in your arm.
  • If an arm lift is out of the question, liposuction will reduce the arm circumference but leave skin looser.
  • The only non-surgical approach is significant weight loss if you are over-weight combined with 3 x week weight lifting of all upper arm and shoulder muscles - this will define the arm, the weight loss will slim it.
Always consult a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Hope you find this information helpful. Best wishes.

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

Some inner arm shaping is accomplished with liposuction

Hi, I just added a link that might be helpful...

Hi FreeSpiritMe.  Thank you for the photos.  Liposuction will remove some fat but you may not see your skin spring back as much as you are hoping because the inner arm skin usually doesn't have a lot of elasticity.  The VASER technology provides some tightening of skin and would be helpful if you proceed with liposuction.  Short scars will provide only partial improvement, but may be your only alternative if you don't accept the full length scars that maximize contours  from arm pit to elbow.  Have a consult with an ABPS certified Plastic Surgeon as an in person examination is central to knowing what liposuction can achieve.  Good luck!

Vaishali B. Doolabh, MD, FACS
Jacksonville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 33 reviews


Smart lipo or Vaser ultrasound liposuction will reduce the fat and tighten the skin- not to the degree of an arm lift with skin removal, but usually enough of an improvement.

An exam and consultation with a plastic surgeon who performs these procedures is recommended.

Harry T. Haramis, MD, FACS
Montclair Plastic Surgeon
3.7 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Arm lift

Thank you for your question and photos.  Although you do not want to undergo a surgical procedure to improve the appearance of your arms, an arm lift is truly your best option.  There are some other noninvasive methods, but none of which will give the degree of correction that you are seeking.

All the best,

Dr. Results
Miami, FL

Jose M. Soler-Baillo, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 92 reviews

Arm Reduction without Surgery

Hello and thank you for your question! You are a great candidate for surgical brachioplasty and I think you would be overall most happy with the results from that. Yes, you would be left with scars but a board certified plastic surgeon is well trained in incision placements to reduce the natural visibility of scars after arm surgery. There are also scar treatment options available to reduce the visibility of scars. Non-surgical options include diet and exercise and minimally invasive laser type procedures. But you will not get the full look of what a brachioplasty will give you. It's a pros and cons type of situation...what are you willing to sacrifice to achieve a pleasing look and what are you willing to live with with or without surgical intervention. Whatever you choose, please remember to seek the advice of a plastic surgeon who is board certified and well trained with this procedure.
Best of luck to you!

Michael K. Obeng, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Arm surgery

Based on your photos the best surgical option for you would be an arm lift, but since you feel that is not a good choice for you, you may consider liposuction.  Be aware that liposuction does remove excess fat, but does not remove skin so you may be left with skin that appears looser or saggier after the procedure.  The scars from this procedure are very small and can be well hidden.  
Non surgical options would include diet and exercise to try to tone the area.
Best wishes.

Camille Cash, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 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.