“The human body is a machine which winds its own springs.” Julien Offroy de la Mettrie

The appearance of loose skin on the upper arm is seen as a stigma of ageing. Most patients who have this problem develop this either as a result of ageing or due to significant weight loss. Women will very diligently go to the gym to try and tone their upper arms through exercise but this makes little difference.

Brachioplasty or an arm lift, is a surgical procedure that reduces excess sagging underarm skin and fat, giving smoother contours. It can be combined with liposuction to help with the contours on the arm or in some cases liposuction can be used as an alternative.

Brachioplasty SURGERY – FACTS

Length of surgery1-2 hours
AnaesthesiaGeneral anaesthetic
Hospital stay1 night
Risks/complications of surgery

Frequent: Bruising, swelling, temporary numbness

Infrequent: Infection, bleeding (haematoma), delayed wound healing, asymmetry, skin necrosis, poor scarring, seroma, nerve injury


5-7 days until socialising with close friends and family
1-2 weeks until return to work and normal social engagements
3-4 weeks until swelling and bruising disappears
4 weeks reduced arm movement required
6 weeks until return to gym and other strenuous activities
3 months until final result

Driving2 weeks
Sleeping positionSleep on your back with pillow under your knees
Follow up1 week, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months
Duration of resultsPermanent unless followed by weight gain



Any plastic surgery procedure is a very personal choice and understandably there are a number of questions that arise. This information sheet is a general guide for patients considering  brachioplasty under the care of Dr Mackenzie. It should provide the answers to some questions that you may have.

Brachioplasty introduction

As we age, the natural elasticity of the skin is lost as the amount of elastin lessens, and the skin and fat of our upper arms begin to sag, creating saggy skin that hangs from the lower side of the arm when the arm is extended. This condition can also occur after substantial weight loss. It can be corrected by removing skin and fatty tissue, however the surgery often leaves a noticeable scar. Smoking also damages the elastin in the skin leading to the appearance of premature ageing.

It leaves a scar that runs on the inside of the arm just above the elbow up to the armpit. As the goal for most patients is to be able to leave the arms bare, some people may not find this a satisfactory trade-off. However, for patients who have lost a significant amount of weight, arm lift surgery can be an important part of restoring a balanced body shape.

The surgery can significantly improve the shape of the upper arm, allowing people to wear short-sleeve or sleeveless clothing without feeling self-conscious. It may help to increase confidence and a better self-image.

What is brachioplasty?

Brachioplasty, or arm lift, is a procedure to tighten and smooth the skin and the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm whilst reducing localised pockets of fat. Slack upper arm skin occurs due to ageing and/or weight loss and in these circumstances, is hardly ever amenable to correction by exercise. Who is a good candidate for brachioplasty?

Brachioplasty is an individualised procedure and may not be suitable for everyone.

The following are common reasons why you may want to consider brachioplasty:

  • Aging, heredity and weight loss have left you with significant underarm skin laxity
  • You are bothered by the appearance of the arms
  • Self-consciousness due to the appearance of the arms