Arm Lift Scars: The Truth About Barchioplasty Scars, Costs, Your Keloid Chances.


Brachioplasty is a body contouring surgery used to remove redundant skin and extra fat from the upper arm. The overall effect is to tighten, and rejuvenate the arm and dramatically reduce sagging. But brachioplasty scars can be an issue. Choice of technique is important with respect to arm lift scars because it determines where on the arm the scars will be located. But, as important as arm lift scar placement is arm lift scar quality. If you’re considering brachioplasty surgery and want to know more about scars from the procedure, keep reading. In this article, we’ll review all the relevant factors that determine how scars from arm lift surgery are likely to turn out.

Brachioplasty Incisions: Where Arm Lift Scars Are Placed?

The cosmetic benefits of brachioplasty surgery are primarily achieved by the removal of a large section of skin and fat from the arm. Stitching the wound reshapes the upper arm with a tighter, firmer, and rejuvenated appearance. Scars from arm lift surgery will be left in one of three locations depending on which brachioplasty technique is used. The three categories of brachioplasty technique are the inner arm, back of arm, and under arm approaches.

Arm Lift Scars: Inner Arm Approach

Brachioplasty is often done using an incision that extends from around the underarm down to the elbow on the inside part of the arm. Scars from arm lift procedures done this way are made more or less over the are between the biceps muscle and triceps muscle. When done this way, the procedure is also referred to as a medial brachioplasty or medial arm reduction. This brachioplasty technique is generally used for patients with moderate to large amounts of redundant arm skin that is distributed over the majority of the length of the arm.

Arm lift scars depicted on inner arm
Brachioplasty inner arm (medial) incision technique

Brachioplasty Scars: Back Of Arm Approach

Arm lift scars from this technique are left around the back of the arm and extend from the underarm level down to around the elbow. This type of brachioplasty is used for very much the same patients as the inner arm brachioplasty procedure who have moderate to large amounts of loose skin all the way down the length of the upper arm. This brachioplasty technique is also called a posterior brachioplasty or posterior arm reduction.

Arm lift scars depicted on back of arm
Brachioplasty back of arm (posterior) incision technique

Brachioplasty Scars: Underarm Approach

Scars from arm lift surgery can be isolated to the underarm area alone in some cases. However, this type of brachioplasty has relatively minimal candidacy. This minimal incision approach is only suitable for patients whose skin redundancy is restricted to around the upper third or so of the arm. The technique is also known as the axillary brachioplasty or axillary arm reduction. Scars from arm lift surgery done this way are short in length and quite easy to conceal.

Arm lift scars depicted on underarm
Brachioplasty back of arm (posterior) incision technique

Liposuction in Arm Lift Surgery

Liposuction works by suctioning fat out of the body through thin cannulas (tubes) inserted through the skin into excess fatty deposits. It is very commonly used during brachioplasty surgery to supplement the results by removing additional fatty deposits in the arm. Sometimes liposuction alone is all that is needed to achieve the desired arm reduction goals. But, only individuals whose upper arm girth is a result of excess fat alone and whose arm does not sag significantly are candidates for brachioplasty done using liposuction alone. Arm lift surgery done this way leaves minimal scarring because the skin incisions used to insert the liposuction cannula are very small (about 1/4″).


How Will Your Scars From Arm Lift Surgery Heal?

We’ve looked at arm lift scar location and placement on the arm. The other key factor when it comes to brachioplasty scars is scar quality. For example, a short scar in the underarm that is thick, red, and raised can be considered a worse arm lift scar result than a full-length scar that heals with minimal visibility. Anticipating how scars from arm lift surgery will look for any one person is challenging because of the large number of factors and variables that contribute to arm lift scars. To simplify the process, these contributing factors can be categorized into:

  • surgeon selection
  • personal healing tendencies
  • impact of skin tightening on arm lift scars
  • after-care.

Arm Lift Scars: Surgeon Selection

If you’re thinking about a brachioplasty but are concerned about scarring, choosing a board-certified surgeon is a big step in the right direction. Most brachioplasties are performed by plastic surgeons that specialize in cosmetic (esthetic) surgery. Some general surgery specialists also do brachioplasty surgery. Board-certified surgeons have specialized training in understanding which arm lift technique will work best for a patient. They are also experts in tissue handling and skin closure methods that will optimize scars from arm lift surgery. Confirm your chosen surgeons credentials and research his or her reputation. Make sure your surgeon of choice performs a large volume of brachioplasty procedures.

Arm Lift Scars: Personal Healing Tendencies

No surgeon can fully control what your brachioplasty scars will look like. Arm lift scars depend on an complex mix of factors such as family history, skin color, ethnic background, and a host of others that are not under any surgeon’s control. To understand the different sorts of arm lift scars that are possible, let’s take a step back to review the four main categories of scars that can form from any surgical procedure:

Type Of ScarWhat They Look LikeExampleImpact On Brachioplasty
normal/maturefine, flat and blend well “good scars” Normal breast implant scar that is fine and flatthe best outcomes for arm lift scars; what surgeons and patients hope for
hypertrophicraised, red and thicker type of scar thick, red, and raised scars that are common after brachioplasty; usually improve over 1-2 years
keloidconsidered the worst scars extensively raised, thick, discolored; grow far outside the area of the injury to the skin Keloid skin scar that is very raised thick red and raised
a devastating outcome due to their extreme thickness but uncommon; any person that is at high risk for keloid scars should reconsider proceeding with a brachioplasty
widespreadflat, pale, wide, and stretched scars A wide flat stretched skin scarpossible type of scar from arm lift surgery because tightened skin stretches back over time, widening the scar in the process

Brachioplasty Scars: Impact Of Skin Tightening

Hypertrophic type scarring is among the most common brachioplasty complications with up to 24% of cases healing with this thick, raised type of scar. Hypertrophic scarring is also a leading cause for revisionary procedures (scar revision). It is a mistake to conclude that poor surgical technique accounts for hypertrophic arm lift scars.

The brachioplasty procedure aims to tighten the arm. This means that the skin is stitched tightly at the end of the procedure. But, it is very well established that tight skin closures can contribute to heavier, thicker scars. So this creates something of a paradox with scars from arm lift surgery in that a tighter closure that firms up the arm more may also contribute to worse arm lift scar quality. Board-certified surgeons will take into account the somewhat conflicting goals of maximizing tightening, on the one hand, and minimizing scarring on the other to produce the best possible results.


Brachioplasty Scars: After-Care is Key

Scars from arm lift surgery can have a built-in tendency to be thick, and hypertrophic as outlined above. This makes ideal, complication-free healing that much more important. Any wound healing problem that delays healing such as infection or stitches opening will increase the likelihood of poor scar results. While every brachioplasty surgeon will have her or his own after-care regimen, some common sense points to keep in mind to optimize scars from arm lift surgery include:

  • quit smoking completely for at least 6 weeks after (and before) arm lift surgery
    • nicotine effect can cause serious healing complications
  • do not plan to return to strenuous jobs, activities, or exercise for at least 6 weeks
    • tight stitching in arm lift surgery can be prone to opening
  • wear compression garments consistently according to your surgeon’s instructions
  • consider the use of scar care products in conjunction with you doctor including:
    • a good quality sunscreen (for a year after arm lift surgery)
    • silicone strips for scars to reduce scar thickness

Arm Lift Cost:

According to HealthCare Bluebook, the range for arm lift cost in the USA is around $3500 on the low end up to around $11,000 at the upper end. The average price is about $4500. As with most cosmetic surgeries, factors that influence brachioplasty cost include:

  • geographic location
  • surgeon demand and popularity
  • technique required (underarm versus full-length incisions)
  • type of anesthesia
  • additional expenses: bandages, scar products, etc.


Brachioplasty is among the most popular cosmetic surgical procedures. Scars from arm lift surgery depend on the technique used, individual healing tendencies, surgeon selection, and a smooth healing process. Discuss the important balance between maximizing arm reduction tightness without provoking thickened scars with yours surgeon as these two goals can conflict. Hypertrophic scars are a relatively common type of arm lift scars. Predicting who will form normal, hypertrophic, widespread scars or keloids is a difficult challenge because individual healing tendencies vary widely.

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