By Dr Maria Lombardo

Underarm surgery or brachioplasty, more commonly known as an arm lift, is a surgical procedure which tightens loose, sagging skin and removes excess fat deposits in the upper arm that develop with age or significant weight loss.

Who is a Good Candidate for Underarm Surgery?

Candidates must be in good health, have no active diseases or serious, pre-existing medical conditions, and must have realistic expectations of the outcome of the surgery. In most cases, patients choose this procedure for cosmetic reasons, but in some patients sagging skin becomes so severe that the skin hangs down, creating what is called a “bat’s wing deformity.” This can restrict motion and interfere with the use of the arm. Patients considering brachioplasty should be aware that a significant scar will be present from the elbow to the armpit, and should not have the operation unless they feel comfortable with the scar or can wear clothes that hide it. This may involve a change of clothing styles, but in most cases the benefit of removing excess skin outweighs this issue.


A “short scar” modification of the brachioplasty is also available for patients with less severe skin laxity. The incision is placed in the arm pit and the loose skin is “tucked” up into the arm pit. This modified procedure is not appropriate for all patients.
How is the Procedure Performed?

First, the patient stands or sits while an area of excess skin is marked. This excess skin is then removed. The area removed is usually shaped like either an ellipse or a triangle. Some fat is left to cover and protect the nerves and arteries, but liposuction is usually performed to provide a smooth result. After the excess fat and skin are removed the wound is sutured closed. Occasionally, a drain may be used.

Options to Enhance the Procedure

In some cases your plastic surgeon may suggest liposuction in conjunction with an arm lift to remove excess fat in the upper arms. Liposuction alone will not improve the condition of loose skin.

If you are interested in discussing one of the arm lift procedures with Dr. Maria Lombardo call for your complimentary consultation today: 760-610-8990.