Arm Lift Vs. Liposuction: Which Procedure Is Best?

Written by Chuma Chike-Obi, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on July 5, 2017 2 Comments

arm lift vs liposuction

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.

Two of the best ways to address these upper arm issues include liposuction or arm lift surgery.

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.


Liposuction solely addresses fat with limited skin benefits. Tiny incisions are made, through which small cannulas are inserted. The cannulas are connected to a suction device which allows the fat to be removed. A laser is typically applied to help the skin tighten more than it otherwise would.

Arm Lift

Individuals with enough skin laxity may benefit from an arm lift, also known as a brachioplasty. If the problem is mild or moderate, the final scar can be limited to the armpit region only (this is known as a mini-brachioplasty). More commonly, the procedure involves a scar that extends from the armpit area towards the elbow.  This procedure allows the surgeon to remove the extra skin, thus improving arm contour.

Liposuction + Arm Lift

Patients with extensive upper arm issues may find that their surgeon recommends a treatment plan combining liposuction and an arm lift procedure. It is quite common to perform both procedures simultaneously and allows the surgeon to fully sculpt and tone the arms.

Downtime (Recovery)

Compared to liposuction, arm lift surgery is a relatively extensive procedure requiring a longer recovery time. Most arm lift patients require approximately two weeks of down time before returning to work or normal daily activity. In contrast, many liposuction patients less than a week to reach a comparable stage of their healing process.


While every surgical procedure can cause some degree of scarring, there is a significant difference between scars from liposuction vs. arm lift surgery. Most liposuction techniques require very small incisions that can be discreetly placed to minimize visibility. Arm lift surgery, however, requires a larger incision which may be visible along the inside of the arm. Scars can be treated in a variety of ways to help minimize their appearance (read my blog post on minimizing scars for more information).

Please reach out to us if you have any questions about these procedures.


Chuma Chike-Obi, MD

Chuma Chike-Obi, MD completed a 6 year residency with the Division of Plastic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine and Affiliate hospitals in Houston, Texas. Dr. Chike-Obi specializes in cosmetic surgery, including facelift, blepharoplasty, breast augmentation, liposuction, rhinoplasty, and reconstructive breast surgery.

2 Responses to “Arm Lift Vs. 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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