When having a brachioplasty?

Skin redundancy at the upper arm may be seen after large weight reduction. On the other hand, it may result from loss of skin elasticity caused by the normal aging process. If the skin excess forms a real fold, brachioplasty may be a solution. In the operation the skin excess is removed at the cost of a permanent scar at the inner side of the upper arm.

Preparation prior to the surgery

An arm lift intervention requires a hospitalization of 1 to 2 days, depending on the postoperative amount of drainage of wound fluids. As soon as major drainage has stopped, you may leave the hospital.

Please inform your surgeon whether you use medicines that alter blood coagulation, such as Marcoumar or Sintrom. The use of medication containing Aspirin (acethylsalicylacid) needs to be terminated 14 days before the intervention.

Smokers are strongly advised to quit smoking at least 2 weeks before, and continue to do so at least 4 weeks after the intervention. Persistent smoking can have profound adverse effects on wound healing.

As the surgery is always done under general anesthesia you must be sober before the intervention starting at 12 o'clock night.

The operation

The surgery is normally carried out under general anesthesia. In exceptional cases local anesthesia can be used.

The incision will be hided as much as possible in order tho reduce the visibility of the final scar. The scar will be T-shaped, the horizontal part will start in the axilla, the vertical part will be located at the inside of the upper arm. It will terminate approximately 10 cm above the elbow depending on the amount of skin redundancy. Consequently, the scar will be visible if the arm is lifted. A drain will be placed in the axillary's region in order to drain the excess of wound fluid. As soon as major drainage has stopped these drains are removed.

After the intervention

Your arms will feel tense, swollen, and painful shortly after the intervention. With time these complaints will gradually diminish. You may leave the hospital at the day of surgery or the day after.

What else do you need to know?

During 4 weeks you sometimes may have to wear a compressive bandage in order to prevent fluid accumulation and reduce swelling in the operated area. Initially, the operated area will be insensitive. The sensitivity will be restored slowly after a few months.


Severe complications rarely occur. In principle, all complications inherent in a surgical intervention may occur, such as bleeding, infection, and delayed wound healing. The last complication is more often seen in smokers and obese patients. If delayed wound healing occurs, the final scar may appear wider in the involved area. In some exceptional cases, an additional scar revision is needed.

At home

During the first postoperative months you may perform light work. Extensive arm movements (such as cleaning the windows) and lifting of heavy objects are absolutely forbidden. After the first few weeks you may gradually resume your normal activities. The scars need to be protected from sun exposure during 1 year. The final appearance of the scar cannot be predicted as the healing process is influenced by other factors, such as genetic healing tendency and the occurrence of delayed wound healing. Initially the scars will be red and hard. Sometimes postoperative treatment with silicone compression or cortisone creme may be necessary. After 6-12 months the scars will have faded and become softer.