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After significant weight loss people often find their skin has lost some of its elasticity and can hang down in embarrassing folds.  The upper arm is often a significant cause for concern, as it is a difficult area to conceal. 

The aim

A brachioplasty removes excess fat and/or skin from the upper arms.  Overall appearance is improved so that the arms look tighter and you can wear closer fitting or sleeveless tops again.

The operation

Mild degrees of fat excess can sometimes be treated by liposuction without the need for any skin removal.  However, if the skin has lost its tone and elasticity as well, the problem can only be solved by the removal of excess skin.

This operation is carried out under general anaesthetic and usually involves a combination of liposuction and skin excision.  The length of the scar on the upper arm will depend on the quantity of skin that needs to be removed, but usually extends from the armpit to a point two thirds of the way along the arm to the elbow.   Occasionally, in cases of extreme skin laxity, the scar may need to be extended to the elbow or beyond.


You should stop taking the contraceptive pill for six weeks before surgery to reduce the risk of blood clots and/or give up or cut down on smoking to reduce the risk of chest infection and speed up wound healing.  It would be better to avoid Aspirin, or any other medication that promotes bleeding, in the period immediately before surgery.


The operation will require one to two nights in hospital and you will need to take two to four weeks off work to recover.

You should not lift any heavy weights or exercise vigorously for one month after the operation.

Sutures will be trimmed after about a week and you will need to wear a firm support garment on the arms continuously for about four weeks after the operation to minimise swelling.

Common risks

The scars will initially feel tight and the arms stiff, but this should settle over the first few weeks.  Minor wound infections are not uncommon after this procedure, but usually settle with extra dressings or a course of antibiotics. 

There may be some reduction in sensation over the inner aspect of your upper arms that could extend onto the forearms.  This usually settles with time.  The scars themselves can stretch and the contour of the inner arm may become a little uneven.

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