Arm Lift or Liposuction: Which Procedure Is Right for You?

A woman enjoys coffee after receiving an arm lift.

As a body contouring specialist, I’ve performed many skin reduction procedures such as arm lift surgery at my Los Angeles practice for patients who have lost significant weight. Upper arm skin often sags after weight loss, and it can be quite frustrating for men and women who have dedicated themselves to losing weight.

Not all patients with concerns about their upper arms, however, may need arm lift surgery. In some cases, liposuction alone can produce significant improvement in the arms’ appearance. Combining the 2 procedures is also recommended under certain circumstances.

In this blog post, I’ll explain the different goals of arm lift surgery and liposuction and answer a question that’s often asked by patients: Can nonsurgical treatments tone the upper arms?

Arm Lift vs. Liposuction

These 2 procedures have very different goals. In simple terms, an arm lift removes excess skin, and liposuction removes excess fat. As I mentioned, some patients have both excess skin and fat and are good candidates for combining both procedures.

Before & After Arm Lift Case 1500 View #1 View in Los Angeles, CA
Before & After Arm Lift
Before & After Arm Lift Case 476 View #1 View in Los Angeles, CA
Before & After Arm Lift

Arm Lift

Arm lift procedures—also called brachioplasties—tone and define the upper arms. It’s not a one-size-fits-all procedure, and I use several different surgical techniques to perform arm lifts, depending on the extent of correction that’s needed.

For example, I may make an incision that stretches from the elbow to the armpit (which I often combine with liposuction) to create dramatic improvements. On the other hand, a mini-arm lift may be all that’s needed for a patient whose excess skin is limited primarily to the uppermost area of the arm. It’s also a technique I use if a patient wants to avoid more extensive scarring.

Before & After Liposuction Case 459 View #1 View in Los Angeles, CA
Before & After Liposuction
Before & After Arm Lift Case 414 View #1 View in Los Angeles, CA
Before & After Liposuction


Liposuction is often thought of as something used to reduce abdominal fat, but it’s an extremely versatile procedure that can be used virtually anywhere on the body (including the neck). Some men and women whose upper arm skin retains most of its elasticity are good candidates for liposuction only. One of the primary benefits is the incisions are very small.

You can see in this short video I’ve posted to Instagram how liposuction can create toned upper arms for the right patients:

You can also learn more about the different liposuction techniques we offer in our related blog post.

Do Nonsurgical Treatments Work for Upper Arms?

There really isn’t an effective nonsurgical treatment for sagging arms. The upper arms are dynamic areas that change when the shoulder joints move. That makes it difficult for nonsurgical skin tightening procedures such as Ultherapy® to work. The best noninvasive way to tone upper arms if your skin isn’t sagging is to build muscle and lose weight through diet and exercise. If you’re already doing that, then liposuction would most likely be the best option.

Get Sleeker, Toned Arms

You can see the results of some actual arm lift patients in our gallery of before-and-after photos. To discuss your options, contact our office to schedule a consultation using the online form or call my plastic surgery practice in Los Angeles at (310) 300-1779.

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