Upper Arm Lift

Brachioplasty

Aging and fluctuations in weight can cause an embarrassing condition known as “bat wings,” or the development of unsightly skin and fat hanging from your upper arms.

The condition cannot be corrected through exercise, but fortunately it can be fixed by surgery. The procedure, known as an upper arm lift or brachioplasty, reduces excess sagging skin that droops downward, tightens and smoothes the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm, and reduces localized, unsightly pockets of fat.


To find out more about upper arm lifts or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Eric Desman of the Virginia Center for Plastic Surgery, call (703) 924-3144 today.

Our goal is to provide you with the highest quality cosmetic surgery care in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC region. Dr. Desman is committed to serving you through advanced training, dedication to perfection and unmatched personal care.

We are confident you will not be disappointed!

How does the procedure work?

An arm lift reshapes the underneath portion of the upper arm, from the armpit to the elbow. To ensure your comfort, we offer a number of options for anesthesia, including sedation and local anesthesia or general anesthesia; we will help you to decide what is best for you. 


During the procedure, the incision length and pattern will depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed. Your expert plastic surgeon will develop a precise surgical plan that will give you the best possible results while minimizing the appearance of your scars.


Incisions are generally made on the inside or back of the arm, depending on the surgeon’s preference, and may extend from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow. Excess fat may be directly excised or treated with liposuction. Underlying supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped with internal sutures. Finally, the skin is smoothed over the new contour of your arm. The incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures or stitches that will be removed within one to two weeks following surgery.


You will immediately see the smoother, tighter contours of your arm; these results will only improve over the coming weeks as the swelling and bruising from the procedure subsides.

Brachioplasty FAQs

Candidates include adults with significant upper arm skin laxity, adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable, healthy individuals without medical conditions that impair healing or increase risk of surgery, nonsmokers and individuals with a positive outlook and realistic expectations.

The brachioplasty procedure consists of creating an incision that extends from the armpit to the elbow. Depending on the amount of fat, some liposuction may be utilized before the excess skin is removed. The skin is then pulled taut, the incision closed and the upper arm areas dressed.

Your surgeon will take the time to answer your questions and address any of your concerns to ensure that you are comfortable and fully prepared for the surgery. Topics include your goals; any medical conditions; any previous surgeries; drug allergies and medical treatments; and whether you are taking any medications, vitamins or herbal supplements, as well as whether you use alcohol, tobacco or drugs. He or she will also evaluate your general health and any pre-existing conditions or risk factors. Your arms will be photographed, and all options will be presented. Your surgeon will discuss likely outcomes and any complications or risks.


It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s stress or even excitement for your anticipated new look. You should be prepared to ask any questions you have.

The average cost for an arm lift is $4,482, according to 2018 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. However, that does not include anesthesia, operating room facilities or other related expenses such as medical tests, post-surgery garments and pain medications. A surgeon’s fee for arm lift surgery will be based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used and your geographic location. Most health insurance plans do not cover arm lift surgery or its complications, but many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans.

Yes, some of the possible risks include bleeding, infection, poor wound healing, scarring, fluid accumulation or seroma, damage to deeper structures such as blood vessels, nerves and muscles, numbness or other changes in skin sensation and pain. There’s a chance the sutures might not absorb and surface through the skin, causing irritation, drainage and redness. When you choose a board certified plastic surgeon to perform your procedure, you can minimize these risks by choosing someone with extensive experience and expertise.

All risks will be discussed before you give your consent for the surgery. It’s important that you understand all the risks and ask plenty of questions during your consultation.

We always recommend that patients stop smoking for a minimum of a few weeks prior to their procedures. You should avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, as they can increase bleeding.

Arm lift surgery can be performed in an accredited office-based surgical facility, an ambulatory surgical center, or a hospital. You will need to have someone drive you to and from surgery, and stay with you for at least the first night following surgery.

Liposuction of the upper arm is usually best suited for patients with good skin tone and a limited amount of excess fat. Arm lifts are usually a better treatment for patients with a large amount of loose or excess skin under the arms.

The incisions will be dressed and bandaged and your arms may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid. You will be given specific instructions on how to care for the surgical site and drains, medications to apply or take orally, specific concerns to look for and when to follow up with your plastic surgeon.

It’s important that the incisions are not subjected to excessive force or motion during recovery. Avoid strenuous exercise or heavy lifting for at least one month. You may need to wear your compression garment for several weeks.

There will be some residual discomfort as your body heals. To ensure your comfort, your surgeon will prescribe pain medication. After a few days, you should be able to manage the pain with over-the-counter medications.

Yes. The scars from the incisions will be permanent, but are usually placed in areas that aren’t readily visible. On rare occasions, incisions can lead to raised or red scars.

It will be about 10 days before you can drive and at least one or two weeks before you can return to work. During the first week, avoid activities that raise your blood pressure, which could cause bleeding.

The smoother, tighter contours of your arms will be apparent almost immediately, although there will be swelling and bruising. A scar will remain where the incision was made.
Although good results are always expected, there are situations where optimal results might not be achieved with a single procedure. A second surgery might be necessary.
The results of arm lift surgery will be long-lasting, as long as you maintain a stable weight and general fitness. As your body ages, it is natural to lose some firmness, but most of the improvement in your arm contours should be permanent.

Contact Dr. Desman of the Virginia Center for Plastic Surgery today to find out if arm lift can improve your life.

Upper Arm Lift

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