Arm Lift Vs. Arm Liposuction: Which Procedure Is Best?

Written by Cameron Erickson, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on November 2, 2023 2 Comments

arm lift vs liposuction

Originally published on July 5, 2017. Updated on November 2, 2023

Undesirable arm contour can be a source of self-doubt, to the point where it affects our quality of life. Loose upper arm skin is most often associated with some amount of weight loss. Rarely will the skin contract down to a desirable contour after such weight loss has occurred. Increased bulk, on the other hand, can lead to patients’ feeling like their arms are out of proportion with the rest of their bodies, especially with certain types of clothing.

When it comes to reshaping the upper arms and achieving a leaner, more defined appearance, two popular cosmetic procedures stand out: the arm lift and arm liposuction. Both procedures are known for their ability to redefine the contours of the arms, creating a leaner appearance. However, the key difference lies in the underlying cause of the aesthetic concern: is it excess skin or a localized pocket of fat? Understanding the nuances of each procedure is crucial for making an informed decision about which option best suits the patient’s goals and needs.

What’s the Culprit? Fat or Skin

During a consultation your surgeon will assess the underlying cause of your upper arm issues. Is it due to excess fat? Or excess skin? Or both? These are crucial questions since their answers will determine the final recommendation.

Arm Lift Surgery

What is arm lift surgery?

Arm lift surgery, also known as brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure designed to address issues related to loose or sagging skin, particularly in the upper arms. This procedure aims to tighten and reshape the underlying supportive tissue, thereby creating a more toned and youthful arm contour.

How is it performed?

During an arm lift procedure, an incision is made along the inside or back of the arm, depending on the extent of the correction needed. The surgeon then removes excess skin and fat, if necessary, and tightens the underlying tissues to create a more defined and sculpted arm appearance.


Recovery from an arm lift typically involves a period of rest and limited arm movement to ensure proper healing. Patients are advised to avoid strenuous activities for several weeks to facilitate optimal recovery and to minimize the risk of complications.


One important consideration for patients considering an arm lift is the resulting scarring. While modern surgical techniques aim to minimize scarring, it is important to note that some scarring may be inevitable, depending on the extent of the procedure.

Arm Liposuction

What is liposuction?

Liposuction is a minimally invasive cosmetic procedure that aims to remove localized pockets of excess fat from specific areas of the body, including the upper arms. It is not intended to address issues related to sagging or excess skin.

How is it performed?

During an arm liposuction procedure, small incisions are made in the targeted area, and a thin tube, known as a cannula, is inserted to gently suction out excess fat. This process allows for the precise sculpting of the arms to achieve a more contoured and streamlined appearance.


Compared to an arm lift, liposuction recovery is generally shorter and easier. Patients may be able to resume their daily activities within a few days, although it is important to follow the specific post-operative instructions provided by the surgeon including the use of compression garments while healing.


One of the advantages of arm liposuction is the minimal scarring associated with the procedure. The small incisions made during the surgery typically result in minimal scarring, which often fades over time.

Differences at a Glance


While both procedures can enhance the appearance of the upper arms, an arm lift primarily focuses on addressing sagging and excess skin, while arm liposuction targets localized fat deposits.


Arm liposuction is generally less invasive than arm lift surgery, as it involves fewer and smaller incisions. In contract, arm lift procedures typically require longer incisions to allow for extensive tissue removal or restructuring.

Anesthesia required

Arm liposuction can often be performed under local anesthesia or twilight sedation, whereas arm lift surgery typically requires general anesthesia to ensure patient comfort and safety during the procedure.

Recovery time

The recovery time for arm liposuction is generally shorter compared to an arm lift. Patients undergoing liposuction can often return to their daily activities within a few days, whereas individuals undergoing an arm lift may require several weeks to recover fully.

Learn more about arm lift recovery

Learn more about liposuction recovery


While both procedures may result in some scarring, the extent of scarring is generally more significant with an arm lift due to the nature of the surgery compared to arm liposuction, which involves smaller incisions and minimal tissue manipulation. There are treatments to minimize the appearance of scars that result from either procedure.


The cost of each procedure can vary based on various factors, including the surgeon’s experience, the geographic location of the practice, and the specific requirements of the patient. Generally, arm liposuction may be less expensive than an arm lift procedure due to the difference in the complexity of the procedures.

Combination Arm Lift + Arm Liposuction

For some patients, a combination approach may be necessary to achieve the desired results. This is especially true for individuals who have both excess fat and sagging skin or those with a low level of skin elasticity. In such cases, a combined approach that utilizes both liposuction and an arm lift may be recommended to achieve the ideal balance of fat reduction and skin tightening.

Ultimately, the choice between an arm lift and arm liposuction depends on the patient’s specific aesthetic goals and any underlying issues. Consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon is essential to determine the most suitable treatment plan tailored to the patient’s unique needs and expectations. By understanding the key differences between these procedures, patients can make an informed decision that aligns with the desired outcome and ensures a successful and satisfying cosmetic surgery experience.

Cameron Erickson, MD

Dr. Cameron Erickson is a native Texan and board certified plastic surgeon practicing in the Southwest Parkway and Dripping Springs locations. Dr. Erickson specializes in aesthetic procedures including rhinoplasty, brow lifts, eyelid surgery, lip lifts, facelifts, breast augmentation and lifts, breast reduction, body contouring and liposuction, abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck), brachioplasty (Arm Lift), 360° liposuction with fat transfer to the buttocks, vaginal rejuvenation, and hormone replacement therapy. In addition, he has had additional training in non-surgical treatments including injectables (Botox/fillers), lasers, and skin resurfacing treatments.

2 Responses to “Arm Lift Vs. Arm Liposuction: Which Procedure Is Best?”

  1. Avatar Lafaye says:

    How much will it be to remove fat from my arms?

    • WD Staff WD Staff says:

      Hi Lafaye,

      Thanks for the great question. On average, liposuction on the arms typically removes 0.5 to 1 pound of body fat (see for more details).

      However, the exact amount depends on the specific characteristics of the patient. If you want to come in for a consultation, we would be able to tell you an estimate specific to you.

      Also its important to remember that the removal of even a small amount of fat from a targeted area can dramatically improve contour of the area. So half a pound may not sound like much, but it can drastically change the appearance of the arm.

      We hope that helps!

      WD Staff

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