Arm Lift Surgery – Your Timeline to Recovery & Top Tips for Healing

Published: July 19, 2021
Category: Arm Lift

Have you retired tank tops, short-sleeved shirts, and strapless dresses to the back of your closet to avoid putting your arms on display? Have you lost a significant amount of weight and now struggle with unattractive sagging, excess skin on the backs of your upper arms? Arm Lift surgery, or Brachioplasty, may be the perfect solution to achieve slimmer, more toned-looking arms and restore your confidence in wearing ANY fashion!

What is Arm Lift Surgery?

arm lift goalArm Lift surgery removes excess skin and fat on the upper arms, usually spanning the length between the inner elbow and underarm, through surgical excision and liposuction,” explains Dr. Nathan Leigh, a board-certified plastic surgeon with Edina Plastic Surgery. 

“The goal of this surgery is to help patients reclaim more proportionate, toned, and defined looking upper arms. Results can be dramatic, and recovery can be relatively short, but it is still important to appreciate that each patient is different in both their outcome and healing process.”

Who is a Good Candidate for Arm Lift Surgery?

Although fluctuations in weight can contribute to the appearance of your upper arms, growing older and genetics can also cause arms to have a drooping, sagging appearance. Weight training may help improve the strength of the underlying muscle in your upper arms, but this will not address excess skin, underlying weakened tissues, and localized fat deposits. Arm Lift surgery may be right for you if the underside of your upper arms is sagging or appear loose and full due to excess skin and fat.

What is the Recovery Timeline after Arm Lift Surgery?

“Many factors can contribute to how quickly a patient heals after Arm Lift surgery,” says Dr. Leigh. “Your medical history, age, sex, and even occupation can play a role in how quickly you bounce back. Patients who are active and have healthy habits established before their surgery are often better able to handle surgery and its recovery time.”

1-3 Days Post Arm Lift Surgery – Most patients experience moderate pain the first few days after their Arm Lift which can be managed with prescription or over-the-counter medication. Expect that your arms will be bandaged and wrapped after surgery, impacting your range of motion and movements that you can perform. You may feel increased pain and pressure near your incisions and when your arms are in motion. The muscles of your arms may also feel sore, and bruising and swelling will be present.

“You’ll want a little extra help with regular activities around the house the first few days after your Arm Lift surgery,” advises Dr. Leigh. “Lean on family and friends for support and make sure you have someone who can stay overnight with you the first night you return home. Have some comfortable, loose button-up shirts on hand, as you’ll want to avoid reaching over your head to pull on a shirt.”

1 Week After Arm Lift Surgery – Although pain, swelling, and bruising will significantly subside one week after your surgery, anticipate that all of these may persist for up to a month following your procedure. Many patients transition to over-the-counter pain management after the first week, and many find that they need none at all by this point.

10 Days After Arm Lift Surgery – Any drainage tubes (if used), stitches, and bandages are usually removed at this time. Although your range of motion and arm mobility may have improved, it is still essential to follow your surgeon’s post-care instructions when it comes to lifting anything heavy and stretching your arms. Most patients return to work by this time and resume normal activities around the house. Compression garments are recommended to aid in the healing process.


2 Weeks After Arm Lift Surgery – “Two weeks post-surgery is generally when we begin a scar therapy treatment plan,” says Dr. Leigh. “This may include silicone-based taping products and/or scar creams. In the future, we may even recommend that you consult with an Advanced Practice Esthetician in our medical spa, Skin Artisans, to discuss further revising your scars with laser or other treatments.”

1 Month After Arm Lift Surgery – Any swelling and bruising from your surgery should be mostly resolved 4-6 weeks after your procedure. Your surgeon may also tell you that you no longer need to wear compression garments on your upper arms. Many patients are cleared to resume their regular exercise routine, begin to lift heavier objects and return to such sports as tennis and golf. Any treatment to address the appearance of scarring will continue for four to six months after Arm Lift surgery.  

Is There Scarring with Arm Lift Surgery?

“There’s no way around it – you will have scars from Arm Lift surgery,” says Dr. Leigh. “As surgeons, we strive to place your incision in the most discreet location possible that will be easy to hide in the future, but anticipate that your scar from Arm Lift surgery will extend from the inner elbow to the underarm. These scars will blend and lighten significantly over time, and our medical spa, Skin Artisans, offers many cosmetic treatments that can further minimize their appearance.

“Although we tend to focus on facelifts, breast augmentations, and tummy tucks when we think of plastic surgery, the number of patients requesting Arm Lift surgery has dramatically increased over the last decade,” shares Dr. Leigh. “The appearance of sagging skin on the upper arms can really make people feel self-conscious, to the extent that it completely dictates what clothes they feel comfortable wearing. I encourage anyone dissatisfied with loose, excess skin on their upper arms to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss Arm Lift. The procedure is affordable, has a faster recovery than many other surgeries, and can be life-changing!”

Ready to show off your arms with confidence again? Schedule a consultation with an Edina Plastic Surgery board-certified plastic surgeon by CLICKING HERE or calling (612) 688-3177 today!


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