What you can expect

By Mayo Clinic Staff

An arm lift can be done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility.

Sometimes the procedure is done with sedation and local anesthesia, which numbs only part of your body. In other cases, general anesthesia — which renders you unconscious — is recommended.

During the procedure

Your plastic surgeon will make incisions on the undersides of your arms. The length and pattern of the incisions depends on how much skin will be removed.

After making the incisions, the plastic surgeon will tighten your underlying tissues and secure them with stitches. He or she might also use a suction technique to remove fat (liposuction). Your skin will then be draped over the new contours and excess skin will be removed. Stitches or surgical tape will be used to close the incisions.

The procedure typically takes one and a half to two hours.

After the procedure

After an arm lift, your incisions will be covered in bandages. Your arms will be loosely wrapped in elastic bandages to minimize swelling. Small tubes might be placed in your arms to drain any excess blood or fluid.

You'll likely see your plastic surgeon the day after your arm lift. He or she will likely remove your bandages and drainage tube.

In the first few days after an arm lift:

  • Keep your arms elevated.
  • Avoid exposing your incisions to excessive pressure or motion.
  • Take pain medication as needed and antibiotics to prevent wound infections.

Talk to your doctor about when — or if — your stitches will be removed. Some stitches dissolve on their own. Others must be removed in the doctor's office in the weeks after the procedure.

Your doctor will likely recommend applying silicone-based or other ointments to your incisions for the next six months to promote healing. Be sure to carefully follow his or her directions.

After an arm lift, contact your doctor immediately if you have:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • An irregular heart beat
Aug. 28, 2012