Arm Lift (Brachioplasty) | Newport Beach |La Jolla, San Diego | Tim Sayed, MD, FACS


Brachioplasty (Arm Lift) – San Diego

Brachioplasty is the medical term for an “arm lift,” where plastic surgeons remove excess skin and fat from the upper arm. This may extend from the elbow to the armpit (axilla) and even further down the upper back in what is known as the “batwing” region, especially in patients who have lost significant weight. Brachioplasty is appropriate in patients who have loose, saggy upper arms that cause social embarrassment or limit the ability to wear certain garments. Patients who have had bariatric surgery often combine brachioplasty with breast enhancement, like a breast lift and breast augmentation (augmentation mastopexy). Upper body correction after weight loss often includes these procedures as well as some upward tightening of the abdominal region.

Brachioplasty surgery can be done through a few different incision designs. What the different techniques have in common is the removal of excess skin and fat, a tightening of the arm into more of a cylinder shape, and an overall smoothing of the arm contour. This requires an incision that runs the length of the upper arm in most patients. Sometimes we perform a little zig-zag (Z-plasty) in the armpit region in order to help smooth the transition from the upper body to the arm. While we make every effort to place the incision in an area that can be concealed in certain positions, there may be some visibility to the final scar. Nonetheless, the improvement in contour is often significant enough that even a scar is better than what was present before. With Fraxel and other laser options, scars can often be improved over time as well.


View real patient before & after results in our photo gallery.

Brachioplasty 101

Brachioplasty is performed by measuring and marking the area of upper arm skin excess carefully. This may include extending the incision into the armpit and down the area near the shoulder blade in some patients with severely loose skin.

Dr. Sayed is careful with his technique to be able to remove the right amount of tissue to create a nice cylindrical shape to the arm without making it too tight. This helps to produce a somewhat better scar and reduce the risk of wound healing issues: Aesthetics Done Right™.

Overhanging skin and fat is removed

Contact us today!

If you’re in the San Diego or Newport Beach areas and have any questions about an arm lift or wish to schedule a consultation on an arm lift with Dr. Sayed, please contact our office.

Brachioplasty FAQ’s

Some of our selection criteria to include you as a brachioplasty (arm lift) candidate include:

  • Extra skin and fat in the upper arm and/or batwing area
  • Willingness to accept a scar in the upper arm in exchange for removal of significant unsightly tissue
  • General good health, meaning you do not have major uncorrected cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney or other major organ conditions, and would be able to be medically cleared for general anesthesia by an internal medicine physician if you are over a certain age
  • Not pregnant or immediately planning to become pregnant
  • Nonsmoker or willing to commit to NO NICOTINE IN ANY FORM for at least 3 weeks preop and for the duration of your recovery
  • A body mass index below 35 and ideally below 30 for optimal results, with rare exceptions
  • Available support system of friends, family, caregivers or others who can help you to keep your appointments, complete your preop and postop tasks, and emotionally bolster you through this exciting journey
  • Reasonable expectations of how much improvement in arm looseness is possible with specific techniques

Most brachioplasty procedures are about two hours in duration, but may take longer if you are also having liposuction, or if combined with other procedures. In some patients, brachioplasty is combined with breast augmentation and breast lifting to create a smooth contour from the arm to the bottom of the breast along the side of the breast, as part of an upper body rejuvenation. This is very common in massive weight loss patients.

Most brachioplasties are performed on an outpatient basis in a AAAASF-certified operating room, meaning the facility is up to very high standards of accreditation. Patients usually spend up to a couple hours in the postoperative suite before being discharged in the care of a companion, family member or friend. Dr. Sayed gives a 24 hour phone number to all patients who can reach him for urgent questions, and we also issue access to a patient engagement application that allows the patient or companion/caregiver to send SMS messages, photos, video and other content to our team in a secure, private digital format. This keeps us mutually informed on your recovery and allows us to update your instructions while requiring a respectful number of face-to-face visits in the office.

Early postop recovery findings can include arm discomfort, swelling, some numbness, and some mental adjustment to the process of healing which most patients undergo. Most patients are advised to take up to 2 weeks out of social circulation and we’d prefer that you not drive yourself in the first 14 days or as long as you are taking any prescription pain medication. You may need help with certain activities of daily living because of the incisions on your arms. Most sutures are dissolvable but there may be a few that need to be removed at around 14 to 21 days postop. You may have drains in place which are usually removed in the office before 10 days.

We ask that you abstain from exercise for 4 weeks and then return to light fitness routines after that. It is very important that you get up and walk even the first night following your procedure. You will be asked to wear a surgical garment for about 3 months, and it will be easiest for you if you wear tops that button down in the front in the first 3 weeks or so. Dr. Sayed and his team provide close postop care in the office and with our remote engagement tools. You will be asked to take some supplement medications to aid in your recovery, which may include medications for pain, bruising, swelling, and dietary optimization.

The final scar from a brachioplasty may not be mature for about a year. The contour improvement should be long lasting (meaning years) if the patient maintains a reasonably stable weight.

  • Have a reasonable expectation of what surgery can accomplish – understand that this is not a surgery for weight loss
  • Don’t smoke or take nicotine in any form for at least 3 weeks and ideally longer before (and after) surgery
  • Stay well rested and well hydrated and eat a nutritious diet balanced with plenty of protein
  • If your diet is lacking in vitamins, take vitamin C and zinc supplementation but ask Dr. Sayed about other supplements. We have a list of ingredients we ask you to avoid in the immediate preop phase to optimize healing and minimize bleeding risk.
  • Designate a caretaker who can help you through the first 7-14 days after your procedure
  • Lose weight to get to a target which we can set together based on your body mass index (BMI) – ideally, we’d like to help you get it below 30, but there is a reasonable range depending on other factors

We don’t like to publish pricing as it is subject to market changes and dependent on the types of procedures you consider. Review our Pricing page to build a “wishlist” and get estimated pricing on an arm lift or a combination of procedures. We also have a fee schedule available in the office after your consultation. Feel free to contact our San Diego office for a pre-consultation and we are happy to provide more information. The cost of your surgery will partly depend on where you have it, and whether you combine it with liposuction, breast surgery, or other procedures.