As you age and your weight fluctuates, extra tissue is added to various parts of the body. Some of the extra padding may be an asset if it goes to the right places; but when the added weight decides to settle into the upper arms, you may find yourself setting aside the sleeveless tops and looking for outfits that hide your arms in their loose folds. No one enjoys feeling the bottom of the arms jiggle around. If you find that the shape of your upper arms is bothering you, contact Dr. Tolson about whether a brachioplasty is right for you.

What is a brachioplasty?

Also known as an arm lift, a brachioplasty is the surgical procedure used to reshape the under portion of the upper arm from the armpit to the elbow. Dr. Tolson is able to remove sagging skin and excess tissue, tighten the underlying muscle, and smooth out the covering skin. By combining liposuction with a brachioplasty, pockets of fat can also be removed, turning out a firmer, more youthful look.

Who should consider a brachioplasty?

Every arm should have some shape to it, but when the underarm begins to sag and cause embarrassment, you may want to consider seeing if plastic surgery is the right option. Some of the factors that may be at the root of the saggy arms include

  • Large amounts of weight loss.
  • Pregnancy
  • Aging
  • Heredity

Before trying an arm lift, try correcting the problem through diet and exercise. The ideal candidate should

  • Be an adult.
  • Have good skin elasticity.
  • Be maintaining a healthy, stable weight.
  • Have realistic, healthy cosmetic goals.

What is involved in a brachioplasty?


Once you have decided to move forward with a brachioplasty, you need to schedule an appointment with Dr. Tolson. He is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons and is a member of the American Society for Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. With over twenty-nine years of experience in the plastic surgery field, Dr. Tolson brings the latest in plastic surgery and combines it with a solid foundation in years of practice, yielding quality procedures and outcomes.

At your initial consultation, be prepared to discuss

  • Your medical history, including previous cosmetic procedures and their outcomes.
  • Your cosmetic and surgical goals.
  • Any current medical conditions.
  • Current medications, vitamins, and supplements you may be taking.
  • Your allergies to any medication and latex.
  • Your current tobacco, alcohol, and drug use.

Dr. Tolson also takes pictures for your medical records and for use in computer imaging. Be sure to ask to see before and after photos of other brachioplasties he has performed. During this consultation, he discusses your options and the probable outcomes with you, ensuring you are fully informed.


Before the procedure, you need to

  • Stop smoking and using tobacco products at least six weeks prior to your surgery.
  • Stop taking aspirin, anti-inflammatories, and any herbs that may thin the blood at least four weeks prior to surgery.
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home after the procedure and stay with you the first night.
  • Arrange to take two weeks off of work.
  • Arrange for help with young children that require lifting for at least six weeks.


Dr. Tolson performs all of his procedures in his state-of-the-art, AAAASF-certified operating room in Cumming, Georgia. On the day of the procedure, you should wear loose, comfortable clothing that buttons in the front so that you do not have to raise your arms. The brachioplasty itself should take between one to two hours, depending on how extensive the procedure is. Either general anesthesia or intravenous sedation and a local anesthesia are generally used.

There are three types of brachioplasties, and Dr. Tolson may choose to use a combination of these techniques to get the ideal results for you.

  • Mini brachioplasty – Designed to address issues created by moderate weight loss and crepe-like skin, the mini brachioplasty requires only one incision, and it gets hidden in the armpit.
  • Upper brachioplasty – If you have lost a lot of weight rapidly and your skin’s elasticity is beginning to wane, then you may need an upper brachioplasty. The incision is placed on the back of the arm and extends from the armpit to the elbow. Excess tissue and fat are removed, and the skin is redraped and trimmed.
  • Extended brachioplasty – For individuals with a lot of loose skin, the extended brachioplasty allows for maximum tightening. The incision extends from the armpit down the inside of the chest, allowing for larger amounts of tissue and skin to be removed.

Regardless of what type of arm lift Dr. Tolson performs, the supporting arm tissue is tightened and reshaped using internal sutures. Once he is finished, he closes the incision using adhesive or absorbable sutures. Gauze or bandages may be put in place. A drain might also be inserted.


Upon completion of the surgery, you are moved to recovery where one of Dr. Tolson’s staff observes you, making sure all is going well. If you had a drain inserted, either Dr. Tolson or a member of his staff reviews how to care for it along with your other post-operative instructions. If a drain has been inserted, you will only be able to sponge bathe until the drain is removed. Be sure to wear any compression garments for the prescribed length of time in order to get the desired results.

Some swelling and bruising are to be expected. They should begin to subside within ten to fourteen days. To help minimize the swelling, keep your arms elevated while sleeping and sitting. Have extra pillows handy before the surgery so that you are prepared once you get home.

Plan on some walking immediately, but your body needs time to heal. Taking two weeks off of work is recommended. You should be able to resume moderate activity after one month. Wait at least six weeks to do any jogging or heavy lifting.


As with any surgery, you should expect to see some swelling and bruising immediately. This should peak out within forty-eight hours and begin declining within two weeks. Even with the swelling, you should see immediate improvements in the contour and firmness of your upper arm. The final results may take two to three months to fully reveal themselves as the swelling has to fully dissipate. The scars from the incisions are permanent, but they will continue to fade over the course of the first year. Your new look should last a lifetime as long as you maintain a healthy, stable weight and remain physically fit. Some loss of firmness with aging is to be expected.

Having “bat” arms isn’t a sign of wisdom or a sign of victory over runaway weight. They are simply unsightly and often cause problems with one’s self-image. Regain your confidence and pull the short-sleeved outfits out of mothballs again. Check into what a brachioplasty can do for you, today.

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    Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

    Dr. Michael Tolson is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Put Dr. Tolson’s years of cosmetic plastic surgery experience to work for you.

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