I'm am confused on the difference between an arm lift and liposuction. Please clarify. (photos)

I am 22 year old with hiuge arms. It's genetic and I really want to fix it. I am really young and I feel limited because of my insecurities. Please help

Doctor Answers 11

Differences Between an Arm Lift and Liposuction

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Thank you very much for your question and photographs. Using a thin cannula and suction, liposuction can successfully eliminate the fatty tissue on your upper arm. However, for an appealing result after liposuction, the skin needs to retract, which it can only do if there is adequate tissue elasticity. If not, this loose, dangly skin will remain on the upper arm. A brachioplasty, or arm lift, utilizes an incision from the arm pit to the elbow. From here, fat is removed, sometimes using liposuction, and the lax skin is excised to create a contoured arm. The drawback to a brachioplasty is a scar running along the incision line, from the axilla to the elbow. I advise you to schedule a consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon. At this time, he/she can perform a physical evaluation and explain all of your options. 

Arm lift and liposuction

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Liposuction of the upper arms will reduce the fatty fullness of the arms and allow the skin to shrink,  If there is excess skin, then in addition to fat removal, skin will be excised from the armpit towards the elbow, leaving a scar.  You need to have a consultation with a Plastic Surgeon to be evaluated and advised which approach is best.

Fred Suess, MD (retired)
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon

Arm lift or liposuction - please explain

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Thank you for asking about your arm lift an/or liposuction.

  • Great question -
  • I am sorry you feel so insecure but I totally understand.
  • An arm lift removes excess skin from the arms. It tightens the arms.
  • Liposuction removes excess fat from the arms - it can leave skin loose. 
  • Your photos suggest that you have excess fat - and perhaps enough fat to have stretched the skin.
  • If you are overweight, losing weight will reduce the size of your arms without any surgery.
  • Or you can have liposuction.
  • Depending on the quality of the skin, you may need some kind of arm lift as well, at the same time or later.
  • I strongly suggest that you consult a plastic surgeon in person - only an exam can assess your skin.
  • Only a plastic surgeon can help you all that you might need - liposuction, arm lift and mini-arm lift.

Always see a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon. Best wishes  - Elizabeth Morgan MD PHD FACS

I'm am confused on the difference between an arm lift and liposuction.

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An arm lift involves removing skin and fat along the back of the arm and arm pit. It results in a moderate to long incision which may be visible. It is reserved for patients that have significant laxity, sagging of skin with of without fat.

Liposuction will remove the fat through small incisions. It does not remove skin. It's reserved for those patients with a tight skin envelope.

It is critical that you visit a board certified plastic surgeon who performs these procedures regularly.

I'm confused on the difference between an arm lift and liposuction. Please clarify.

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In a liposuction small incisions are made either in the arm pit or inner aspect of the elbow, salt water is injected through this incision and a small metal cannula is then used to evacuate the fat with suction.  In this case, only fat is removed.  In an arm lift or brachioplasty longer incisions are made which may extend down the length of the inner arm form the arm pit to the elbow.  In this case both excess skin and fat is removed.  The trade off is the longer scar in a brachioplasty.  Once you have been examined, your surgeon should be able to advise you as to which option would be in your best interest.  Best wishes, Dr. Lepore.  

Sometimes both an armlift and lipo of the arm are needed together.

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Liposuction of the arms would do very well but you may want to do the arm lift which an incision is placed in the armpits to tighten up the skin somewhat as well at the same time to get maximum results. It is all done under local and would probably be your best option.

David Hansen, MD
Beverly Hills Dermatologic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Arm liposuction or Brachioplasty

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Liposuction is a procedure which removes subcutaneous fat and the skin shrinks to some degree. At your age your skin elasticity (ability to shrink) is high. Liposuction may benefit you. Skin tightening options like the brachioplasty require an incision. The skin is tightened during the procedure but there is a necessary scar. 

I'm am confused on the difference between an arm lift and liposuction. Please clarify.

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Liposuction takes away the fat in the upper arm and can make loose skin look even looser. But at your age, if your skin quality and elasticity is good, you may benefit from liposuction alone. The arm lift, or brachioplasty, removes the fat and the skin but the scar is a long one and most younger women will not want that. 

Arm lifts and liposuction

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In a nutshell liposuction removes fat only.

And arm lift primarily removes loose skin but can include the removal of fat as well.

The decision of which procedure to have is based on what the primary underlying problem or diagnosis is.

In other words someone who has been layers of fat with lots of hanging loose skin needs an arm lift.

On the other hand someone with tight skin and thick layers of fat should have liposuction.

Most patients will fall somewhere in between.

In your case it appears that fat it's probably more of an issue than skin but you do have a little bit of skin laxity as well.

Liposuction it's an easy procedure that can be done while awake. It's safe and has a faster coverage.

Liposuction of the arms is technically difficult.

This is mostly due to liposuction equipment being straight in the arms being tightly curved.

Aggressive liposuction can remove the majority of subcutaneous fat in your arms.

If too much fat is removed your scanner will be compromised and have a more sagging appearance.

Your best results will come from having A balanced approach removing the correct amount of fat.

In your case the liposuction should also be gently blended into the forearms and armpit.

An arm lift or brachioplasty is an excellent procedure for people with a substantial amount of excess skin.

It tends to leave a quite visible scar which makes it somewhat less popular than other procedures.

In your case I would not recommend an arm lift or at least not at this time.

My practice is devoted exclusively to liposuction in front to transfer.

I am one of the only board-certified plastic surgeon's in the western United States who is devoted to his practice exclusively to these two procedures.

I perform the great majority of liposuction without the use of general anesthesia.

Did vantages of keeping patients awake during the procedure include increased safety, better outcomes, faster recovery, less bruising, less postoperative pain and lower costs.

At this point they suggest getting several in a prison consultations from board-certified plastic surgeon's.

Liposuction it may be the easiest cosmetic procedure to perform but it is also one of the most difficult to do well.

Considering that arms are technically more difficult to treat with liposuction than other areas it is definitely worthwhile finding a plastic surgeon who has true  expertise with this procedure.

When selecting a plastic surgeon look for board certification, experience, online reputation including consistent reviews equally distributed among all the various doctor review websites(yelp, right MD, health grades, real self etc.), Honest demeanor and price.

While I personally perform liposuction keeping my patients awake there are many extremely talented plastic surgeons who prefer using general anesthesia and do so with consistently good results.

Cosmetic surgery is the longest lasting investment anyone will ever make. This is for the rest of your life so it behooves you to proceed with caution and not to cut corners.

Meet with a few board-certified plastic surgeon's to get a better idea of what May work best for you and what you can expect in regards to results.


Mats Hagstrom M.D.

Arm Lift vs Liposuction

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An arm lift typically refers to a Brachioplasty and that requires an incision to remove extra skin and fat. Arm liposuction is removing the fat utilizing tiny skin openings and liposuction techniques. In your case, liposuction is the way to go. Arms are a sensitive area and require liposculpting with micro cannulas and meticulous technique. Make sure your surgeon is very experienced in liposuction.  By the way, your procedure is easily performed under local anesthesia. 

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.