Upper Arm Lift

What is an Upper Arm Lift?

An arm lift removes excess skin, and usually some fat, from the upper arm area. An upper arm lift is part of a cosmetic surgery procedure called ‘body contouring’ which is designed to remove skin and fat from various body areas. This sagging skin in the upper arm is usually caused by weight loss. However, the natural ageing process also causes skin to lose elasticity naturally. Many individuals find that the arms, in particular, lose their firmness as the layers of muscle and supporting fat become thinner. Some call this a ‘bat wing’ deformity. In such cases, an arm lift can help to restore and tighten these areas, giving a much firmer, youthful look and leaving you more confident to wear sleeveless tops and dresses.

Is an arm lift right for me?

An arm lift can improve your appearance and your self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal, or cause other people to treat you differently. Before you decide to have surgery, think carefully about your expectations and discuss them with Dr. Fred Coville. The best candidates for an arm lift are men or women who are looking for improvement, not perfection in the way they look. If you’re physically healthy and realistic in your expectations, you may be a good candidate. However if you have “wings” associated with aging then a brachioplasty may be right for you.

This surgery is not suitable after a mastectomy where the lymph nodes have been removed other operations in the axillary (armpit) lymph nodes. Those with multiple infections of the sweat gland may also be poor candidates for brachioplasty. Dr. Fred will be happy to discuss your suitability for the procedure during your consultation.

Are there any risks?

In most cases, an arm lift is a very straightforward procedure. Nevertheless, as with any operation, there are some risks. Anyone considering surgery should be aware of these potential complications before deciding to go ahead with it. The most common risks include infection, bleeding, and a potentially unsightly scar. Dr. Coville will discuss these with you in detail during your consultation and will give you as much time as you need to feel comfortable in your understanding of the procedure.


In your initial consultation, Dr. Fred will evaluate your health and explain which surgical techniques may be the most appropriate for you, based on the condition of your arms and skin tone. Be sure to discuss your expectations frankly with him and our staff. He will be equally frank with you, describing your alternatives and the risks and limitations of each of your options. You must be sure to tell us if you smoke and if you are taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs. Dr. Coville will also explain the type of anesthesia to be used, where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved.

How do I prepare for an arm lift?

Our staff at Cornerstone Plastic Surgery & Aesthetic Medicine will give you detailed instructions to prepare you for your surgery, including guidelines on eating and drinking, smoking, and taking or avoiding certain medications. While making preparations, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you home afterwards. Someone should also be available to help you out for a day or two if needed. If you would like, we can arrange a health aide to stay with you to assist you during this period. If you are visiting us from out of town or abroad for your surgery, we will facilitate all the arrangements to make your recovery as comfortable as possible. Be sure to ask about our Seaside Recovery options.

Where will my surgery occur?

Arm Lifts can be done under local anesthetic and sedation, or general anesthetic. Dr. Coville will review your options with you during your consultation. The surgery is typically performed on an outpatient basis at one of the fully accredited surgery centers on the beautiful Southern Shore of New Jersey with which Dr. Coville is affiliated.

What happens?

There are different degrees of ptosis (drooping) deformities of the upper arm. Brachioplasty can remove the excess tissue and reduce the circumference of the upper arm. The specific type of surgical correction depends on the amount of extra skin present and how loose the supporting tissues have become. Extra skin is removed from incisions along the inner arm, where the resulting scars can be best hidden.

The most commonly incision extends from just above the elbow to the armpit, running along the inner aspect of the upper arm. Surgical sculpture involves treating not just the superficial skin but also the deeper attachments that have loosened. In some cases of limited extra skin, the incision can be hidden in the armpit only. This type of technique can be used to re-suspend tissues in some cases but it is not a good answer for extensive redundant skin. Liposuction can also be useful to contour the fat layer.

Regardless of the location of the surgical incision, every effort is made to make sure that the resulting scars will be as inconspicuous as possible. The surgery usually takes about one-and-a-half hours to compete and drainage tubes following the operation are rarely needed. We will use dissolving stitches to close the incisions, which will also be taped for greater support.

After Surgery

You’re likely to feel tired and sore for a few days following your surgery, but you’ll be up and around in 24 to 48 hours. Most of your discomfort can be controlled by medication that Dr. Fred will prescribe for you before surgery so that you have them with you when you need them. Within several days, we will remove any dressing if you have them and you will be asked to wear a compression garment. This is to reduce swelling and assist in shrinking and tightening of the skin. You should wear it as directed. If you elevate your arms with pillows, you will feel more comfortable as you recover.


Most patients can return to work within a week, depending on the level of activity required for one’s job. Limiting lifting is important. Follow our advice on when to begin exercises and increasing activities after surgery. Your scars will be firm and pink or red for at least six weeks. They may remain the same size for several months, or even appear to widen with time. After several months, your scars will begin to fade, although they will never disappear completely. Dr. Coville will want to see you during this period to see if there is any need for him to treat your scars so that they heal as inconspicuously as possible.

Will I Be Happy?

For most patients, the results of an arm lift are extremely satisfying. Your decision to have an arm lift is a highly personal one that not everyone will understand. What is important is how you yourself feel about it. If you’ve met your personal goals, then your surgery is a success.

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Cornerstone in Linwood, NJ

401 New Rd, Suite 103, Linwood, NJ 08221
Tel: +1 609-957-5652

Cornerstone in Toms River, NJ

432 Lakehurst Rd, Toms River, NJ 08753
Tel: +1 609-957-5652

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