Arm Lift (Brachioplasty)

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An arm lift (brachioplasty) reshapes the back part of your upper arm to make it look smoother and more natural. You may consider the surgery if you are bothered by sagging skin under your arms. An arm lift can help you feel more confident wearing clothes that show off your arms and can improve your body image.

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What to Know When Considering Brachioplasty

An arm lift is a popular cosmetic procedure that removes excess skin from the under part of your arm from the armpit to the elbow. While exercise can strengthen your upper arm muscles, it cannot tighten the skin overlying the muscles. Patients choose this procedure because droopy under-arm skin is hard to hide, especially if you want to wear short sleeves.

You will Have a Scar
While the procedure will result in more toned looking arms, it will also leave a scar. Our plastic surgeons position the fine scar in a location that is not noticeable, typically on the back or the inside of the arm.

Short Procedure, Fast Recovery
If you are in good health and you are not actively trying to achieve significant weight loss, you may be a candidate for an arm lift. The procedure is short – about one to two hours – and is performed in an outpatient surgery center. You should be able to recover and resume your normal activities quickly.

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Before Surgery

Initial Consultations

An initial visit with your plastic surgeon may take place via telehealth or in person. Your surgeon will review your medical history including previous surgeries, medications you are taking, and conditions that may put you at risk for surgery. During an in-person visit, your plastic surgeon will examine you, assess your goals, and determine whether an arm lift procedure will give you the results you seek. Your surgeon may recommend that you quit smoking for a period of time or discontinue medication before surgery to ensure the best possible outcome.

Understanding the Risks

An arm lift carries the same risks as any other standard minor surgery. These include the risk of bleeding and blood clots, infection, and risks associated with anesthesia. Your doctor will discuss these possibilities with you.

Arm Lift Cost

Brachioplasty is a cosmetic procedure. As such, it is not covered by insurance. Our financial counselor will provide a cost estimate before you proceed.

Pre-surgical Testing

Once your surgery has been scheduled, you will meet with an anesthesia specialist to ensure you are in good health. Depending on your health, you may be scheduled for pre-surgical testing that can include blood work, an EKG, or other tests to ensure you are ready for surgery.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Arm Lift Surgery and Recovery

On the Day of Your Brachioplasty

A brachioplasty procedure typically takes about one to two hours. During this time, your surgeon will make an incision in your upper arm, remove excess skin, then tighten and smooth the remaining skin. You will be discharged the same day.

Your Recovery

You will wear compression garments for about four to six weeks to minimize swelling. You should be able to resume your normal activities within one week, but your doctor will recommend that you avoid major physical activity, particularly heavy lifting, for up to six weeks. Your doctor will see you for a post-operative clinic visit to examine your scar and to ensure you are healing in a timely fashion.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 10 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2024–2025.

This page was medically reviewed on 06/13/2024 by