What is an Arm Lift?

Arm Lift is a surgical procedure to improve the appearance of the under portion of your upper arm by removing pockets of fat, reducing excess sagging skin that droops downward, tightening and smoothing the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm. The fluctuations in weight, aging, and heredity cause your upper arms to have a drooping, sagging appearance.


How should I prepare for Arm Lift surgery?

  • Consult with a plastic surgeon about the surgery including the steps, techniques, incision, operating hours, results, risks, complications and recovery recommendation. 
  • Evaluate your general health status such as blood test, Chest x-ray, ECG by an Internist based on the hospital safety policy.
  • Continue taking any current medications for your underlying disease.
  • Stop smoking at least 2-4 weeks prior to surgery.
  • Avoid taking aspirin and anti-Inflammatory drugs including herbal supplements which can easily increase bleeding at least 2 weeks prior surgery or according to the physician advice.


What are the steps in an Arm Lift surgery?

Incisions are generally placed on the underside of your arm and may extend from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow. The incision length depends on how much skin and fat will be removed. After excess skin and fat is removed, the underlying supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped with internal sutures. Once done, the external sutures will be used to close the incisions.


Who is a good candidate for Arm Lift surgery?

  • Adults with significant upper arm skin and fat laxity 
  • Adults of any age whose weight is relatively stable for at least 3 months
  • Healthy without medical conditions that impair healing or increase risk of surgery
  • Nonsmokers
  • A person who has realistic expectations


Results after surgery:

  • The results are apparent almost immediately following the  procedure. But the final results may take up to several months after surgery.
  • The incisions will be swollen at the beginning period after surgery until the internal wound is healed. It generally takes up to 1-2 weeks. 
  • The skin appearance and sensation will gradually improve.
  • The scar will be visible after surgery. The scar healing will depend on the heredity and after wound care. Normally the scar will be less visible in 1-2 years after surgery.
  • Arm lift results are typically long lasting.  As your body ages, your skin will naturally lose some firmness..
  • In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.
  • Following your physician’s instructions is essential to the success of your surgery.



  • Your surgeon will wrap your arm with an elastic bandage. It will be removed and replaced with an arm compression garment bandage or elastic bandage (if there is too much swelling) after the surgeon removes the surgical drain tube.  
  • An appointment will be made to remove the external stitches 7-10 days after surgery.
  • Patients can return to work within 14 days after surgery.

Post-op care

How to take care of yourself after surgery?

Swelling and Bruising: 

  • Bruising and swelling will occur within 48-72 hours after surgery. The third day is usually the worst and then it will gradually get better after day 4. 
  • Bruising will be better after 4 days and will fade away within 21 days.
  • Swelling will subside quite quickly in the first 2-3 weeks and then gradually subside between 3 to 6 months. 
  • Cold compress with a cold pack or a bag of ice is needed in the first 3 days to help reduce swelling and bruising.

Pain and Medication:

  • The most painful moment is right after surgery and on the first day. In some patients, it will take some time before all the pain disappears. 
  • Surgeons recommend taking anti-inflammatory medicine only when you are in pain. Do not take it more than 6 times per day. 
  • There may be some side effects such as nausea or dizziness.
  • If a rash or itch occurs after taking the medication, the patient needs to inform the surgeon immediately.

Medication Dosage:

  • The antibiotic medication needs to be taken until it is finished. 
  • Inform your surgeon of  any underlying condition and medication. The dosages need to be adjusted by your surgeon or medical doctor both before and after surgery. 
  • Do not take Aspirin or any medication in Aspirin group, Vitamin E, herbs, or any supplements for at least 2 weeks before and after surgery. It can cause bleeding and bruising.  

Smoking and Drinking:

  • Stop smoking 4 weeks prior and 4 weeks post-surgery as the nicotine delays wound healing. Stop drinking 2-4 weeks prior and 2-4 weeks post surgery.


  • Get enough sleep and rest after surgery.
  • Sleep on your back and use 1-2 pillows to place your both arms above the heart level. It will  help reduce swelling.

Wound care:

  • Before removing surgical drain tubes, patients can only take sponge baths.
  • After the surgical drain tubes are removed, surgeons will place  waterproof dressing so you can take quick showers. 
  • Waterproof dressing will be removed within 48 hours after you are discharged from the hospital.
  • Check waterproof dressing, make sure it is clean and dry at all times.
  • Do not touch the wound directly after waterproof dressing has been removed.
  • Use cotton buds with normal saline to clean the wound and apply antibiotic cream twice a day. 
  • Your surgeon will remove stitches in 7-10 days
  • If there are any signs of infection or complications, please inform surgeons immediately.
  • Scar cream, scar gel, or silicone sheet can be used 5-7 days after removing all stitches or as soon as the wound is recovered.                                        

Arm Compression Garment:

  • You must wear an arm garment for 24 hours at least 1-2 months after surgery or per your surgeons recommendation


  • During the first 5 days after surgery, it is important to not engage in any activity that will elevate the blood pressure and possibly cause bruising or hematoma under the skin.
  • Avoid exercise for at least 2 months after surgery. 
  • Only light exercise is recommended 4-6 weeks after surgery.
  • No weight lifting or heavy lifting in first 6 weeks
  • Avoid hot tubs or saunas for at least 6 months after surgery. 
  • Do not participate in any contact sports for at least 6 months.


Risks and Complications:

General Risks & Complications:

  • Complications of general anesthesia
  • Infection
  • Bleeding 
  • Blood collection
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis
  • Keloid scar
  • Poor wound healing
  • Pain

Risks and Complication of Arm Lift:

  • Seroma (fluid buildup under incision site)
  • Swollen and skin color change
  • Necrosis and wound separation
  • Recurrent of excess skin under arms
  • Skin contour irregularities
  • Numbness and change of skin sensation and weak muscle
  • Chance of revision



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