An arm lift, or brachioplasty, is an operation to remove excess skin over the upper arm. This is commonly done after weight loss, but may also be done to remove the “bat wings” that develop in aging arm skin. In a traditional brachioplasty, excess skin is removed along the entire length of the upper arm (see the area marked out in blue on the diagram below).
This results in a scar which is very noticeable. Not only does it run down the back or inside of the entire upper arm, but scars in this area tend to widen and thicken as well. Some patients are turning toward a mini-brachioplasty to avoid this significant scar. In a mini-brachioplasty the incision is horizontally oriented along the edge of the underarm area, making it much less visible. This is only able to remove excess skin from the proximal part of the upper arm, right near the underarm (the area marked in green on the diagram). The mini-brachioplasty may also be combined with liposuction to address excess fat further down the upper arm. Not everyone is a candidate for the mini procedure, however, as it only addresses excess skin over the upper ⅓ of the arm. If there is excess skin along the entire upper arm, a traditional brachioplasty would still be needed.