What is a Brachioplasty?

What is a brachioplasty?  Somebody was talking about it on this site, and I don't know what it means.

Doctor Answers 39

Brachioplasty is the Medical Term for Arm Lift

Brachioplasty is the term used to describe an arm lift. The procedure is used when one develops loose skin in the upper arms, sometimes also referred to as "bat wings". From El Paso, Las Cruces, New Mexico.

El Paso Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 140 reviews


As mentioned below, a brachioplasty is commonly known as an arm lift, and it is a trade off of a better contoured arm with significant scars. The scars are positioned in a location to try and hide them but they will always be visible.

Brachioplasty can be a very good operation for people who have lost significant amounts of weight. Insurance, unfortunately, does not typically cover an arm lift.

I hope this helps.

Steven H. Williams, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Brachioplasty and Arm Lift: Reducing unwanted skin and fat

Brachioplasty procedures are becoming increasingly common with massive weight loss patients. The decision to perform a brachioplasty is based on the following criteria:

  • Amount of skin redundancy
  • Amount of volume excess - fat in the upper arms
  • Quality of the skin

Options for surgery include a vertical scar along the inner arm, a crescent scar hidden in the armpit, or a combination of the two. In patients with a history of poor scars, the procedure is generally avoided. However, in patients with a tendency to heal with clean scars, the results are amazing.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Brachioplasty is an "arm lift"

A brachioplasty is an "arm lift" procedure done to remove excess skin and fat from the upper arm. Other than in patients who have had massive weight loss, this procedure is relatively rarely performed because of the rather visible scars that are involved. The skin in the upper arm is very thin and the scar, while carefully placed in the inseam of the upper arm, has a tendency to spread and become wide and unsightly despite the surgeon's best efforts. This is still acceptable in patients who have a serious excess of skin, but often is a sticking point in patients who only have a moderate skin excess.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Definition of brachioplasty

Thank you for your question regarding brachioplasty.

"Brachio" comes from the Greek language indicating upper arm. "Plasty" comes from the Greek language indicating "to mold or to form". Therefore, brachioplasty is molding or re-shaping of the upper arm.

There are several different types of brachioplasties. Some patients have minimal fat deposits in the upper arm and wish for improved arm contouring. These patients have excellent skin tone. These patients are classified has Type 1 arms. Often, these patients can be treated with liposuction alone.

Type 2 patients have excess skin and fat in the upper 1/3 to 1/2 of the upper arm. In the lower 1/2 or lower 2/3 of the arm, these patients have excellent skin tone and minimal arm fat. These patients can be treated with a crescent brachioplasty or a limited T-brachioplasty . In the crescent brachioplasty, upper arm skin and fat is removed in a crescent fashion. This arm scar is usually well hidden in the axillae. In the limited T-brachioplasty, a crescent area of skin and fat is removed in the armpit. The incision is also extended approximately 2 to 4 inches down the inner arm. The resulting scar looks like the letter "T".

Type 3 patients have excess arm skin and fat from the armpit to the elbow. These patients require a longitudinal medial arm lift. During this procedure, an elliptical area of arm skin and fat is removed from the inner arm. To maximize scar concealment, the incision should be placed between the biceps and triceps.

Type 4 patients have excess skin and fat of the upper arm and forearm. These patients require an incision from the axilla to the wrist. Excess skin and fat is removed from the upper arm and lateral forearm.

Thank you for your question regarding brachioplasty or arm lift.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely, Dr. Katzen

J. Timothy Katzen, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 196 reviews

What is brachioplasty?

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. 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. This operation is normally performed as an outpatient. 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. 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. Elastic compression sleeves commonly worn by athletes can be purchased relatively inexpensively at any sporting good store. Many patients wear these for up for up to 2 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 result.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 112 reviews

What is a brachioplasty?

A brachioplasty is an arm lift operation designed to remove skin and fat from the back part of the upper arms.  It is most commonly indicated for patient who have lost large amounts of weight.

David Stoker, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

Brachioplasty for Excess Skin Fat & Sag of the Upper Arm

                  Brachioplasty is a surgical procedure that’s designed to address excess skin and fat of the upper arm. This procedure typically involves an incision that’s made from the elbow to the armpit. Excess skin is removed in both the transverse and vertical dimensions with this procedure.

                  The procedure is effective for removing excess arm skin and creates a more shapely arm. Unfortunately, brachioplasty is often accompanied by adverse scarring.

                  If you’re considering this procedure, consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon is appropriate. This surgeon should be able to formulate a plan that’s appropriate for you. 

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Brachioplasty or Arm Lift

Brachioplasty means 'arm molding.' It is an arm lift.

There are 3 kinds, depending on the problem in the arm.

1. Liposuction - if the arms are heavy but skin is snug.

2. Long scar arm lift - uses an incision from armpit to elbow. Used to remove arm tissue hanging from elbow to armpit. Excellent operation. Remember the scar is long and may be visible.

 3. Short scar arm lift - uses an incision hidden in the arm pit to tighten loose upper arm tissue. Little skin and fat removed. Easy operation - but will not fix heavy arms.

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

Arm Lift and Brachioplasty Explained


Candidates for Surgery
Candidates for an Arm Lift also called a brachioplasty procedure, have excess skin hanging from the upper arms creating the “bat wing” effect.  This may be because of weight loss or genetic reasons.


Intended Result
Reduce the amount of excess, sagging skin and fat on the arms to create a slimmer arm contour. The results are highly dependent on the expertise of the Plastic Surgeon and one of the reasons that many patients choose our practice.  This procedure allows many patients to feel more comfortable in sleeveless clothing.

Procedure Description
Incisions are placed in a subtle location on the underside of the arms, between the armpit and the elbow.  General anesthesia is usually used for this procedure.  The length and location of the scar is dependent on the location of the unwanted and excess soft tissue. The unwanted skin is removed to reveal the arm’s natural shape.  In many cases, liposuction is used to remove excess fat to enhance the natural contour of the arm. If there is limited fat and loose skin close to the arm pit then a short scar technique leaving the final scar in the arm pit may be possible.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 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.