Arm Lift Surgery / Brachioplasty

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An arm lift or brachioplasty is a body contouring procedure designed to address loose and sagging skin of the arms.

Loose and sagging arm skin, classically follow significant weight loss but can be due to general effects of ageing.


Operation Information

Operating Time: 2 Hours
Hospital Stay: 1 night
Recovery Time: Approx. 1.5 weeks

The option of liposuction alone is limited. Liposuction will remove fat, rendering the remaining skin even looser.  An arm lift (brachioplasty) is adopted to remove excess skin to tighten and lift the arm. There are a small group of patients, however, who have large arms with relatively tight skin and may benefit from liposuction alone.

As skin appearance becomes looser, some degree of skin reduction will be necessary in addition to liposuction. In this larger group, a combination of liposuction with skin excision of the upper arm extending into the armpit may be the best option.

For many patients, a formal brachioplasty will be the most appropriate option. This will involve an excision or skin tightening from the armpit down to the elbow. While this is a significant scar to accept, this approach will deliver a more dramatic result.

Arm lift Sydney before and after

Performing the Arm Surgery (Brachioplasty)?

Modern brachioplasty practiced by Dr Drielsma involves a combination of radical liposuction with skin only excision and tightening.  Further, this approach preserves the underlying arteries, viens, nerves and lymphatic tissues and reduces wound healing problems. Brachioplasty is a procedure with predictable healing and low complications.

Brachioplasty takes some 3 hours to perform. It is done under general anaesthetic with a one night hospital stay. Dr Drielsma uses dissolving stitches which do not require removal.

Usually you will require 2 weeks off work. You may commence gentle exercises after 3-4 weeks, however, avoid vigorous exercise for 6-8 weeks.  It may take 2-3 months before returning to completely normal activity.

Are there any risks?

As with any surgical procedure, there is a risk of complication.  Surgery and anaesthesia are safe and it is unlikely you will experience any difficulty. However, there are areas of potential problems you need to understand before proceeding with your surgery. You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following instructions before and after surgery.


Bleeding can be problematical in about 2% of cases.  It is possible in cases bleeding that return to the operating theatre will be necessary.


If infection occurs it will usually become evident within one week of surgery and may delay the healing process or result in the development of scar tissue. This may also require treatment with antibiotics. Further, in the unlikely event of infection, the ultimate result of the surgery may be adversely affected.


The surgery is done under a general anaesthetic and the anaesthetist will discuss the possible discomforts following anaesthesia. Your anaesthetist can answer any questions you have regarding your anaesthetic at the time of surgery.


All surgery carries risks and every incision leaves a scar. Scars do however fade over a one to two year period and become much less noticeable.  The scar of brachioplasty is never invisible. But Dr Drielsma places it in a position that minimises its visibility. Dr Drielsma will explain the nature in full to you before surgery.


Some change in sensation for up to six months is common as bruised nerves are recovering. Further, some minor residual permanent alteration in sensation may occur.

Fluid Collection:

A seroma is a collection of fluid under the skin and fat. If this occurs it may take a few weeks to absorb. Wearing the pressure garment will help reduce this risk.


Lymphoedema is swelling of the arm due to damage to lymph channels from the arm. Using modern techniques as described above which preserve lymphatic tissue, the chance of this problem, once common, is now rare.

**Results may vary for individual to individual