Arm Lift

If you are looking to get rid of your flabby arms you might want to consider an arm lift, also known as a brachioplasty. An arm lift removes the excess skin and fat in the upper arm area, greatly improving the contour of the arm making it firmer and smoother.

Three different procedures can be used to reduce the upper arm area:

  • If no excess skin is present then only liposuction is necessary.
  • If some excess skin is found near the arm pit, then liposuction is done together with a mini-arm lift. The amount of skin removed will be around 3½ inches long by 3 inches wide. The incision is hidden in the arm pit.
  • If the amount of excess skin is greater, then liposuction is done together with removal of a larger amount of skin, with the incision starting at the arm pit and finishing near the elbow.

The surgery is normally done under local anesthesia and sedation. It can be done on an outpatient basis or the patient may have to stay overnight. This surgery can be done simultaneously with other plastic surgery procedures such as facial remodeling, breast surgery, lipectomy, etc.


  • Schedule an appointment with Dr. Fournier. During this visit you may ask him any questions you might have about the surgery.
  • Have a complete medical check up, an electrocardiogram and laboratory blood and urine tests; including a complete whole blood count, partial thromboplastin time, prothrombin time, platelets, and HIV. If you are over forty five years old a blood lipid profile is also needed with total Cholesterol, HDL and LDL, their ratio, and triglycerides.  Tests are valid if taken up to three months before the surgery. 
  • Take antibiotics such as Augmentin 500mg (one capsule three times a day with each meal), Cipro or Ceclor 500mg (one capsule twice a day with a full breakfast and dinner) two days before, the day of, and seven days after the surgery.
  • Inform Dr. Fournier of your daily vitamin and medication intake.
  • Notify Dr. Fournier if you develop a cold or flu a week before your surgery.
  • Please avoid: Aspirin, more than 500mg of Vitamin E, ginkgo biloba, ginseng and blood thinners for two weeks before your surgery. Also avoid alcohol intake and smoking (primary and secondary) for a month before and a month after the surgery, as nicotine and alcohol delay and might even complicate your healing process. Suspend and AVOID estrogen or progesterone derivatives or any female hormones six weeks before surgery.


  • Please brush your teeth, but do not eat or drink coffee or tea.
  • Please do not wear make-up, remove your nail polish, contact lenses or dentures before the surgery.  Do not apply moisturizer on your arms. 
  • The evening and morning before surgery, clean the area to be operated on with soap and water.
  • Please do not bring any jewelry or valuables to the hospital. 
  • Please wear a robe, housecoat or tracksuit that buttons or zips in the front and flat shoes after the surgery. No tight-fitting clothes.
  • Someone will have to drive you home, to your Hotel or Recovery Home.

* Post-operative instructions regarding activity, medications and office visits will be given to you after your surgery.


  • Physical activity should be limited to movements that are comfortable. For the first two days you should not raise or over stretch your arms.
  • Antibiotic ointment or Vitamin E can be applied daily to the sutures using cotton tipped applicators until stitch removal (approximately seven days).
  • Continue the antibiotics as instructed. If you develop diarrhea, discontinue and notify your doctor.
  • Anesthetics, sleeping pills and pain medication can produce constipation. High-fiber diets and stool softeners will help reduce constipation after surgery.
  • After showering, dry the incision areas very gently with a towel. Re-apply antibiotic ointment and a clean cotton dressing.
  • You may drive after pain medication is discontinued, but consult Dr. Fournier before you do.
  • Please take a multivitamin and an iron supplement after the surgery. Be sure to discuss your dosage with the doctor before starting, as it depends on your blood loss.
  • Do not exercise for six to eight weeks after surgery, and consult Dr. Fournier before starting.


Avoid strenuous activity for a week after the surgery, including bending and lifting. Swelling should be mild to moderate, peaking after 2-3 days. Non-absorbable stitches will be removed after a week. Some grogginess may persist for 5-7 days.

While each person’s recovery is unique, the recovery period generally lasts 1-2 weeks. Strenuous activity can be resumed after about 6 weeks.

During the first 3 weeks, bruising and swelling is to be expected, and should disappear with time. After 3 weeks most of the swelling should be gone.

On week 4 or 5, areas where fat was extracted will become bulky, as if ping-pong balls where below the skin. Massages and pressure will help flatten these areas. 

After 6 to 12 weeks pain around bone areas will diminish. Such pain is the result of friction between the liposuction tube and the superficial bone layer.

The effects of liposuction will begin to be seen after 6 weeks. After approximately 3 to 6 months the healing process will be around 80% completed, reaching 100% after 12 to 18 months.

In most cases sensitivity appears after 6 months. In some cases it might take up to 12 months.

After the arm contour normalizes, the decrease in size will be noticeable. However, if the patient gains weight the remaining fat cells will fatten.

Swelling may cause a burning sensation or pain, which can be treated with compression sleeves and acetaminophen. Compression sleeves can be bought at They are available in Costa Rica.

Arnoldo Fournier M.D., F.A.C.S. ©

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