A typical brachioplasty illustrating scar location

Arm reduction (Brachioplasty)

Excess  upper arm skin can hang down causing a “bat wing” effect. When arms are by the sides, the excess skin can bunch below the armpit causing some people to feel self conscious and avoid wearing sleeveless tops.

Arm reduction surgery gives a very good improvement in arm contour but does so at the expense of a scar running along the inner arm. This trade off is worth it for people with lots of excess skin but this has to be weighed up more carefully in less severe cases.

This surgery is particulary common for people who have lost large amounts of weight and can be combined with removal of excess skin along the side of the chest (that hangs over bras straps). It is also sometimes continued into a breast lift with removal of excess breast skin following weight loss.

Frequently asked questions

General questions

I have treated some minor cases with inner arm liposuction with good effect but these have limited excess skin with good elastic recoil. It is not suitable for massive weight loss patients. Building up the biceps muscle, or placing a biceps implant would be insufficient to reduce excess skin in the typical case I see.

Mr Davis does brachioplasty for a fixed cost. For the current fixed cost please either email us or phone us on 0800 268 526..

The quoted cost for surgery covers everything including anaesthetist fees, theatre fees, consumables, staying overnight in hospital after surgery, any additional consultations after the first consultation and all the follow up for dressings and checks in the first year after surgery. This cost includes GST.

Examples of brachioplasty are shown during a consultation to illustrate the typical range of results and the placement of the scar.

The scar runs from the back of the armpit (posterior axillary fold) down the inner arm to the inner elbow.

With your arms by your side this scar cannot be seen. When your hands are on your hips, the scar should not be seen from the front but could be seen from behind. The scar will continue to fade to a white line over 12 months. It is permanent but becomes inconspicuous in most cases.

Limited incision brachioplasty leaves a scar just in the armpit. I have not seen a case that would benefit from this.

During surgery

Arm reduction surgery is done under general anaesthetic. The back of the arm (which has a thicker fat layer than the from of the arm) and the inner arm is liposuctioned first which allows me to remove more skin than a simple soft tissue excision. The average width of tissue removed is about 9-11cm. My average brachioplasty removes about 300-500 ccs of fatty aspirate and the skin/ fat removed weighs about 300-400g on each side. There is not a lot of weight in the tissue despite how it might feel.

All the sutures dissolve and I don’t use any drains. Most people stay overnight and then come back the following week for the first change of dressings. You can shower during this time. A compression dressing is rolled over the arm for the first few weeks.

The risks

Specific considerations that Charles will discuss will you during the consultation include:

  1. This scar is permanent but fades with time. Because of the geometrics of the armpit closure, the scar can also extend on to the chest wall next to the armpit.
  2. The nerves that give feeling to the upper inner forearm (intercostobrachial nerves) pass through the area of tissue removed. Occasionally there is a permanent area of numbness on the upper inner forearm so you have to be careful leaning against hot surfaces for instance.
  3. If too much tissue is removed at one location, this can cause a tension band effect. This should not happen with careful surgical planning. It is possible to remove too much or not enough tissue.