Will Tightening Arm Skin Leave Severe Scars?

I have lost about 100 lbs and I have super loose arms and arm-pit skin to the point that I look like an 80 year old woman and I am only 23.

I really want to get rid of it but am weighing the cost of having a major scar down my arm verses the extra loose skin. Is the scar as bad as people make it out to be? Is there something called and arm pit tuck to tighten the skin between the chest and arm pit?

Doctor Answers 47

An Arm Lift is right for you when the idea of the scar is more attractive to you than the loose skin you have

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A scar will, ideally, fade over time.  A scar can be carefully camouflaged with makeup, if needed.  But that loose skin can only be hidden by wearing long loose sleeves.  The time to have the arm lift surgery is when the idea of the scar is more attractive to you than continuing to hide the loose hanging skin.  And, yes, there are methods to remove the extra skin near the armpit as well.

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Will tightening arms again leave unsightly scars

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in the plastic surgery literature 40% of patients who undergo a standard full length brachioplasty develop unsatisfactory scars. When scars can be placed in the axilla or armpit the scarring is much less noticeable. In my opinion, a brachioplasty scar does not have to be unsightly. We have state of the art sutures and incision taping devices designed to decrease scarring. In my practice we use barbed sutures to obtain a better closure and use Prineo taping systems which make a great difference in the final scar quality. Also, postoperative silicone sheeting is very effective. And postoperative conservative erbium laser resurfacing diminishes the scars over several sessions of laser treatment. Scars can also be camouflaged with make up and ingenious designs of clothing. In any event, the scar is much more attractive than the loose hanging skin. Best of luck in your endeavors. 

James Fernau, MD, FACS
Pittsburgh Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

Arm Lifting Scars?

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Thank you for the question. 

Congratulations on your successful weight loss.

Based on your picture  you may be a good candidate for arm lifting surgery.  This is an excellent procedure to improve the contour of the arms;  the downside is a relatively high rate of unsatisfactory scarring and the need for revisionary surgery.

It would behoove you to seek consultation with well experienced board-certified plastic surgeons.

I hope this helps.

Scarring after brachioplasty

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If you have a large amount of loose, hanging skin in the arms, the only way to really tighten it is to undergo a brachioplasty procedure. The scars are long and typically do not heal as nicely as scars elsewhere. They are placed on the under surface of the arm so they are not visible when your arms are down by your side. It is definitely a trade off -- scars for better arm contour. I would advise you to look at lots of pictures of brachioplasty scars so that you can judge for yourself.

Not all scars are unsightly but in general, these scars are more noticeable than others. If you decide that you do not want to have long arm scars, you can opt to have a more limited form of brachioplasty where the scar is kept in the armpit. However, there is a limit to how much tightening can be done with this shorter incision.

Caroline Min, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Arm lift is a trade for improved arm appearance with a scar

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Despite the efforts of generations of surgeons- the scars for arm-lift procedures tend to be some of the poorest quality scars we put on our patients- the inner arm skin is very thin and inelastic- its constantly moving- since its cylindrical, there is always tension on the scar- my experience has been that women with 'skinny' arms with lots of loose skin tend to have more acceptable scars. All of the arm lift revisions I have done for my own patients have been on women with fatty/heavy arms AND loose skin. I stage these patients- lipo first, and then arm lift 3 months later. The short scar arm-lift procedure is only appropriate for patient with laxity limited to the upper 1/3 of the arm.

Scars from arm lift

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An arm lift procedure will leave a visible scar on the inner arm ,but it is a good trade off to create improvement of the deformity which will improve your arm contour .Make sure you seek a Board- certified plastic  surgeon for your consutation to be properly treated

Michael H. Wojtanowski, MD
Cleveland Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Scarring from Arm Lifts

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With any surgical procedure, you’re bound to have some scarring. However, the severity and longevity of scars is affected by factors such as your age, general health, and if you use a scar-lightening treatments to aid in fading your scar. Most patients notice that their scars are significantly flatter and lighter nine to twelve months after surgery. It’s important to remember that because of the location of the incision, scars from brachioplasty seldom heal fully. However, incisions are usually made on the underside of the arm and usually can be hidden by wearing a short-sleeved shirt of loose sleeves. After the incision has healed, you may want to speak with your surgeon about using a scar lightening cream containing salicylic acid, glycolic acid, hydroquinone, or onion bulb extract, all of which have been linked to improving scarring and other forms of hyperpigmentation.

Will Tightening Arm Skin Leave Severe Scars?

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Scars depend on a variety of factors including location on the body, tension at the site of closure, and genetic susceptibility to scarring. A brachioplasty scar is a long scar on the inner arm, but if it is well placed, it can be difficult to spot unless you raise your arms like your are doing a shoulder press. There is a procedure to tuck the arm skin with an incision in the arm pit, but I find it much less effective than a full brachioplasty scar to make the arm "tight".

Will Tightening Arm Skin Leave Severe Scars?

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This often depends on the patients ability to scar and the techniques used.  I prefer to place the arm lift scar on the medial aspect of the arm. This typically heals quite well. If I worry about thicker scarring, I have the patients start with silicone sheeting.  If patients have a lot of subcutaneous fat in the arm as well as skin, I prefer to do liposuction first and then the skin excision to follow.  This prevents would separation and allows for a nicer, thinner scar in most patients. 

Armlift Scars Improve Significantly With Time

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Thank you for your question.  Many weight loss patients are bothered by the excess skin of the upper arms after significant weight loss.  Non-surgical options alone are often in-effective in addressing the excess skin associated with weight loss.  Minimally invasive options like liposuction combined with a short armpit scar only works in a small subset of patients with minimal laxity.  The best option for weight loss patients is often an armlift with adjunctive liposuction to get rid of any excess fat that would cause the skin laxity to relapse. The scars are not attractive early on, but if appropriately placed do well in the long term and the improved contour is definately worth the trade-off for most patients. Consider consultation with a Plastic Surgeon with significant experience in weight-loss body contouring for the best results.

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.