Brachioplasty | Arm Lift Surgery | MedStar Health

If you’re bothered by upper arm sagging, an arm lift surgery (also called brachioplasty) can help. This procedure reduces excess skin in the upper arm and tightens and smooths the underlying tissue, providing a slimmer, more proportional arm shape. After surgery, arms are tighter and smaller.

The procedure is performed by making an incision on the inside or back of the arm or in the armpit, removing excess fat, and tightening supportive tissue. Your doctor will help you understand the procedure and recommend the technique to achieve the best cosmetic result.


You and your surgeon will discuss the procedure in detail so you can understand how it will be performed. During your consultation, you will have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your surgery.

On the day of the procedure, you’ll receive either IV sedation or general anesthesia. Your doctor will make an incision, either in the armpit or inside or on the back of your arm, depending on the amount and location of excess skin being removed. Excess fat is removed surgically or with liposuction. The underlying tissue is tightened and reshaped with internal sutures, and the skin is smoothed over the new contour. The skin is then closed with absorbable sutures or stitches.

Recovery after arm lift surgery

After the procedure, your arms will be bandaged and may be wrapped in a compression garment to minimize swelling and provide support during healing. Small tubes may be placed under the skin to help drain excess blood or fluid.

You’ll typically return home on the day of surgery with instructions from your doctor, as well as any prescribed medications for pain and infection prevention. You’ll likely be able to return to work or regular activities after a few days. Your scars, while permanent, will fade over time.

Our locations

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MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Road NW,
BLES Building
1st. Floor
Washington, D.C., 20007


MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center

106 Irving St. NW
POB North
Ste. 3400
Washington, D.C., 20010

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at McLean

6862 Elm Street
Suite 800
McLean, VA 22101


MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate for an arm lift?

    You may be a good candidate if:

    • You’re physically healthy
    • You’re at a stable weight and not significantly overweight
    • Your expectations are realistic
    • You understand the risks that come along with surgery
    • You have upper arm sagging and loose skin
  • How much does the procedure cost?

    The costs for the procedure will vary based on your specific needs. Most insurance plans don’t cover arm lifts.

    When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available.

  • Is the procedure covered by insurance

    In most cases, the surgery isn’t covered by insurance. In rare cases, insurance coverage may be available if excess skin impedes arm function. It’s always best to discuss coverage questions with your insurance carrier.

  • Do I need a referral to your office

    If you’re exploring options for insurance coverage, you may need to request a referral from your primary care doctor, depending on your health insurance plan. Check with your carrier to see if medical coverage is an option for you and, if so, whether a referral is required.

  • What are the risks of surgery

    As with any surgery, arm lifts do pose some risks. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, risks include:

    • Anesthesia complications
    • Bleeding
    • Damage to nerves, blood vessels, or muscles
    • Fat tissue death (necrosis)
    • Fluid accumulation (seroma)
    • Infection
    • Numbness or changes in skin sensation
    • Persistent pain
    • Poor scarring
    • Possibility of revision surgery
    • Sutures that don’t absorb and spontaneously surface through the skin
  • How should I prepare for surgery

    Before surgery, you may be asked to get blood tests and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and better avoid complications. You’ll also need to arrange for transportation to and from the procedure on the day of surgery, and for someone to stay with you the night after the surgery.

    For more information visit Patient Resources or Preparing for Surgery.