Brachioplasty Complete Guide - Pros, Cons, Side Effects

Shalu Bhati

Updated At  08 Jan 23


Are you annoyed with excessive flaps of skin hanging loose from your arms? Are you looking forward to a Brachioplasty? Then, keep scrolling to read our complete guide on Brachioplasty!

Brachioplasty also called an arm lift, is a cosmetic surgical procedure. It is looked upon as a solution for getting rid of the extra fat and skin that hangs loosely from your upper arms aka the bat wings. This procedure is just another way of surgically smoothing and reshaping the contours of your upper arms. If you think this is something that might help your case, then we suggest reading this complete guide on Brachioplasty that we have compiled for you. We have covered everything about the procedure starting from what is Brachioplasty and how is to done to its pros, cons, and side effects. You will also get answers to some of the most asked questions on this procedure along with Brachioplasty before and after pictures. if you are worried about extra fats in armpit, do check out how to loose armpit fat.

So, let’s begin!



What Is Brachioplasty?

Are you aware of that annoying condition wherein flaps of excessive skin, usually called bat wings, hang down from upper arms? Well, Brachioplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure to counter just that. Commonly known as the arm lift, Brachioplasty is a type of procedure that aims to contour, smooth, and reshape your upper arms by removing the loose and excessively sagging bits of skin.


This surgery removes the extra skin and fat starting from the underarms to the top of the elbow, tightens the remaining skin, and smoothens the tissue to give a more defined and toned look to the whole upper arm area.


Brachioplasty is often done for patients who have lost a significant amount of weight and is sometimes done at the same time as their weight loss surgery. Why? And how is a Brachioplasty done? Is it really worth it? Who is an ideal candidate for this procedure and who is not? We will answer all these questions one by one beginning with the process of Brachioplasty.

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How Is Brachioplasty Done: The Complete Process

Here we have covered everything about Brachioplasty starting with what undergoes during the preparation stage, how the surgery is performed and what you must expect after a Brachioplasty.


The steps to prepare a patient for Brachioplasty may begin weeks, sometimes months, before the actual scheduled date of the surgery. As part of this preparation, your surgeon might take the following steps:

  • Ask you to quit smoking, if that’s the case, as smoking can increase the chances of risks and other complications. One of the most common Brachioplasty risks related to smoking is slow wound healing. It can lead to an increased risk of scarring and infections
  • Ask about your medical history, if you have recently taken or are currently taking any medication including herbal supplements and OTC drugs like aspirin, or if you have undergone any other surgery among other things
  • Conduct a preoperative evaluation to determine the surgical approach best suited for you. This evaluation might include some basic blood tests, chest X-ray, electrocardiogram, pulmonary function test, etc.



  • This is also the time when you would be asked about your expectations from this surgery. Your surgeon will make sure that you understand what Brachioplasty would do for you—the benefits, as well as the risks, involved
  • Take pictures of your arms to keep them as part of your medical record
  • Adjust doses of the medication you are currently taking and give a prescription for some preoperative medications if required
  • Prepare a surgical plan for our case based on your physical evaluation and requirements

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Brachioplasty Process

Brachioplasty is a simple procedure that lasts two to three hours. Following are the steps that are generally undertaken in a Brachioplasty:

  • The surgeon will start by marking the arms as a guide to make incisions later during the surgery. These incisions depend upon the specific surgical plan curated for your case
  • You would be given either local or general anesthesia depending upon the surgical approach
  • There are several ways in which a Brachioplasty is performed. The most common approach is to make an incision either on the insides or the back of your upper arm that might extend from under your pits to the top of your elbow. Sometimes, these incisions also extend to the sides of your chest
  • Therefore, as the case may be, the surgeon will make the incision with the markings they made previously as a guide. Then, they would remove the extra tissue and skin along with some fat
  • Once all the excess tissue and skin has been removed, the surgeon would reconnect the remaining tissue, pull back skin over it and sew everything back together
  • If there is still an extra amount of fat that might make doing a Brachioplasty difficult, then the surgeon may even perform liposuction first



After Surgery Care Post Brachioplasty 

Expect the following after your Brachioplasty:

  • You would most probably wake up with a tube attached under your skin. This is to drain the fluid build-up
  • Expect pain after the surgery
  • You would have to wear a compression garment to keep post-operative swelling in check
  • Depending upon your surgical approach, you could be allowed to leave the facility on the same day or you could also be kept for observation
  • Driving would be a big no after surgery and you would need someone to pick you up from the facility and take you home
  • Your surgeon will give you instructions on how to take care of your stitches that you would have to follow diligently. They would also tell you about the warning signs that you must look out for and details about your follow-ups
  • If you are a smoker, then you would need to avoid smoking till you have healed completely else you would run the risk of infections and a terrible Brachioplasty scar
  • You would be advised to not indulge in any strenuous activities for a few weeks. This means no moving of arms above your heads, no driving or workout that puts pressure on arms
  • The results of a Brachioplasty are visible immediately after the procedure. But sometimes, one surgery is not enough to bring about the desired results. In such a case, another surgery is needed to further contour and reshape the area
  • You would be given postoperative medications that you would have to take according to the instructions of your surgeon

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How Long Does It Take To Recover?

The time taken for recovery after a Brachioplasty is different for different people. Usually, it takes one to two weeks to get back to work while resuming some activities. It takes about another six weeks to return to normalcy as was before the procedure.

To facilitate a quick and smooth recovery, you must always follow your surgeon's instructions and contact them immediately if there are any problems.

Following are some severe Brachioplasty complications:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Severe fluid drainage from incisions

Contact your surgeon immediately for medical help if any of these complications occur during recovery.

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Who Can Get Brachioplasty?

An important question is who is a good candidate for Brachioplasty and who isn’t.

Mostly, people who have lost a considerable amount of weight face the issue of extra skin folds. This situation is not only annoying but in certain cases can also lead to infections apart from being a self-esteem issue. The loosely hanging skin is a result of the skin’s ability to stretch back into its original position after the significant weight loss.

Thus, people who not only have lost a considerable amount of weight but have also maintained a stable weight for a minimum of six months before considering Brachioplasty are good candidates.

Apart from weight issues, genetics and age also play a huge role in the loss of elasticity in the skin. Brachioplasty comes to the rescue in such a situation as well.  However, a person would not be considered for Brachioplasty, if they

  • Smoke
  • Face frequent changes in their weight
  • Have medical conditions that create issues with wound healing
  • Suffer from connective tissue disorders
  • Have been on oral steroids for a long period of time


Brachioplasty Cost

The Brachioplasty cost depends upon several factors including the health of the patients, the kind and extent of surgery required, skills of the surgeon among other things. However, the average Brachioplasty cost is estimated to be about $4,257.

Sometimes, a patient might need more than one surgery or might develop some complications. Therefore, these extra charges must also be factored within the Brachioplasty price.



Is Brachioplasty Worth It – Its Pros, Cons, And Side Effects

Seeing the Brachioplasty before and after photographs can be intriguing. But, is this procedure really worth it? Let’s find out by looking into its pros and cons as well as some of the most common Brachioplasty risks.

Brachioplasty Pros

Following are some of the pros of getting a Brachioplasty:

  • Gets rid of sagging skin folds
  • Smoothens and tones the upper arms
  • Helps patients who have undergone a considerable weight loss
  • Provides quick and substantial results
  • Prevents inflammation and rashes that were occurring due to the sagging skin
  • Helps with regaining self-esteem

Brachioplasty Cons

Following are the Brachioplasty cons:

  • Visible Brachioplasty scar in many cases
  • Post-operative care may require a lot of work
  • Comes with various risks
  • Can get expensive

Brachioplasty Risks

Brachioplasty is generally considered to be a safe procedure but it can have risks and complications like any other surgery. These risks depend upon the age of the patient, amount of weight lost, health issues, the approach adopted for surgery among other things.

Following are some of the most common Brachioplasty risks:

  • Bleeding
  • Scarring
  • Damage to the nerves, muscles, blood vessels, or lymphatic tissue
  • Tissue death
  • Infections
  • Pain
  • Trouble with wound healing
  • Complications from anesthesia
  • Blood clots
  • Asymmetry in the shape of arms



Brachioplasty Tips

Following are some important tips that you must keep in mind if you are thinking about undergoing the procedure:

  • Choose your surgeon carefully. Make sure they are a board-certified cosmetic surgeon
  • Be aware of your reasons for opting for this procedure, the benefits and risks involved, if there are any alternatives, complications after the surgery among other things
  • You must keep a check on your expectations. Ensure that they are realistic by indulging in a discussion with your doctor
  • In fact, first and foremost discuss if you are the right candidate for Brachioplasty or not. ask if the surgery is worth it. Sometimes the risks outweigh the benefits
  • Since it is a cosmetic procedure, it is mostly not covered under insurance unless there are complications that arise from a patient having excessive skin folds. Make sure you have a proper idea of how much you would be required to pay. Keep in mind the hidden costs that could be a result of post-operative complications or a need for another surgery
  • Follow your surgeon’s instructions properly before as well as after the surgery
  • If you are a habitual smoker, make it a point to quit smoking several weeks before the procedure as smoking increases the risk of complications
  • Discuss your medical history with the surgeon including any recent health issues, medications you are on, etc.
  • Reach a stable weight and maintain it before thinking about going under the knife as a significant weight fluctuation after surgery can harm the already weakened skin badly



Frequently Asked Questions On Brachioplasty 



Q. How much does an arm tuck cost?

The average cost of an arm tuck is about $4,900 as per an estimate of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


Q. How painful is a Brachioplasty?

You can expect mild pain and discomfort after a Brachioplasty. Contact your health professional immediately if the pain gets severe.


Q. How long does it take to recover from Brachioplasty?

There is no fixed timeline for a Brachioplasty recovery. But, you may still expect a four to eight week recovery period.


Q. Do you lose weight after a Brachioplasty?

No, you do not lose weight as a result of Brachioplasty. However, if you lose significant weight after having done the procedure it could lead to stretch marks, scarring, and more sagging skin folds.


Q. How do you sleep after an arm lift?

After an arm lift, you cannot sleep on your stomach or your sides. You must sleep on your back. You can use pillows to prop up your arms for comfort.


Q. What do you wear after an arm lift?

Wear loose and comfortable clothes that don’t require you to lift arms above your head for at least the first two weeks after the surgery. You must also wear a compression garment to help with the recovery process.


Q. What can you do after an arm lift?

You must avoid all activities that put pressure or strain on your arms after an arm lift including any activity that requires you to lift your arms above your shoulders. This must be avoided for at least four weeks after the surgery or as guided by your surgeon.


Q. Does Brachioplasty leave a scar?

There is a risk of a Brachioplasty scar with the procedure but that depends upon several factors including the surgical approach adopted, the amount of skin removed, and if there were any complications during the surgery among others. There are alternative methods as well as approaches that minimize the chances of getting a Brachioplasty scar.


Q. What is the best treatment for sagging arms?

Brachioplasty is one of the best treatments for sagging arms. It is a cosmetic surgery procedure which removes the extra skin and fat starting from the underarms to the top of the elbow, tightens the remaining skin, and smoothens the tissue to give a more defined and toned look to the whole upper arm area.


Q. Can you move your arms after Brachioplasty?

You will need to consult your doctor as the duration can vary on a case by case basis. If you are following an exercise routine, you will have to mos likely stop the same till you get approval from your doctor to restart it. In most of the cases, patients can take from 1 to 3 months to begin regular work.