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How Long Does an Arm Lift Take?

Tampa arm lift model before and after

At Tampa Bay Plastic Surgery, one of our most popular procedures is Brachioplasty, also known as an arm lift. This procedure is sought after by men and women alike. Today, we reveal everything you need to know about this life-changing procedure, including how long it takes.

How Long Does an Arm Lift Take?

Depending on the extent of the correction you need, your arm lift may take anywhere from two to three hours. Most of our clients only require two hours to achieve their ideal aesthetic. However, your procedure will take longer if you also require liposuction performed on your upper arms to get the sleek, toned look you desire.

Does This Procedure Hurt?

Absolutely not. This outpatient procedure is performed under general anesthesia to ensure your complete comfort throughout the process. If your anesthesiologist determines that general anesthesia is not right for you, the procedure will be performed under local anesthesia and oral or IV sedation.

It is absolutely crucial that you arrange for a ride to and from your procedure. You may not operate a motor vehicle or any other heavy equipment within 24 hours of being put under general anesthesia or sedation.

How Long Does Recovery Take?

Everyone recovers differently. During your initial consultation, we will give you an idea of what to expect during your recovery process. For instance, you will need to wear compression sleeves for two weeks after your procedure. You will avoid any activities that can elevate your heart rate for two weeks.

After one week, you may return to work if you work a white-collar job. If you work a blue-collar job, you will need to take two weeks off of work. You may slowly resume your exercise routine six weeks after your procedure. By three months post-op, you will have no restrictions on your daily activities.

When Can I Start Working Out Again?

In the first two weeks after your procedure, you should avoid lifting anything heavier than five pounds. Three weeks post-op, you may resume lifting things over 10 pounds. During these three weeks, you should also avoid repetitive or high-impact motions that can cause mechanical stress, such as burpees, jumping jacks, pull-ups, and push-ups.

Should I Focus On a Particular Workout Routine or Diet Before My Procedure?

To get the most out of your body contouring procedures, it is important that you lead a healthy lifestyle. This includes both a healthy diet consisting of reasonable portions and regular exercise. While there isn’t a specific workout routine you need to start up before your procedure, you should be doing at least 2.5 hours a week of cardio and three resistance training sessions.

If you’re still trying to lose weight, aim for five hours of moderate-intensity cardio a week and three to five resistance training sessions. If you don’t have five hours a week to commit to cardio, we strongly recommend 2.5 hours of high-intensity cardio per week, such as 30-minute HIIT sessions five days weekly.

How Long Do the Results Last?

Unfortunately, nobody can stop the aging process permanently. Depending on the health of your skin, you can expect the results of an arm lift to last 10 to 15 years.

This assumes that your weight does not fluctuate by more than 10 pounds. Significant, regular weight fluctuations will weaken your skin significantly, and then the results may only last seven or eight years.

How Should I Prepare for Brachioplasty?

Two Months Before Your Procedure

Stop smoking. Some people can stop smoking cold turkey without going through withdrawal symptoms. Others can stop cold turkey and prevent withdrawal symptoms by taking CBD oil supplements. Some people need to wean themselves off nicotine slowly. The bottom line is you should not consume any nicotine in the six weeks leading up to your procedure.

Starting to quit two months before your procedure allows you time to cut back fairly slowly. If you need help to quit, ask your primary care physician for local resources to help you. Keep in mind that smoking cessation devices, such as gums and patches, also contain nicotine.

One Month Before Your Procedure

Roughly a month before your procedure, you will come in for a pre-op evaluation to ensure you are healthy enough for this procedure and it is a good fit for you. Included in your evaluation will be lab work to verify your health, a chest X-ray, and an electrocardiogram to verify your heart health, prescriptions for pre-op medicine, and an adjustment to your current medications.

We will also evaluate your current aesthetic, review your aesthetic goals and explain to you the best technique to achieve your goals. We will also explain the results you can realistically expect to achieve. Your satisfaction is one of our top priorities.

Two Weeks Before Your Procedure

Two weeks before your procedure, stop taking any medications or nutritional supplements that affect your blood’s ability to clot. Such medications include NSAIDs, MAOIs, and corticosteroids.

Examples of nutritional supplements that thin the blood include garlic supplements, vitamins E and K and Ginkgo Biloba. During your initial consultation, we will provide you with a comprehensive list of medications and supplements you must avoid in the two weeks leading up to your procedure.

The Day Before Your Procedure

The night before your procedure, it is important that you do not consume alcohol. Lay out comfy clothes to wear for your procedure, eat three healthy meals, and drink between half a gallon and a full gallon of water.

We strongly recommend that you practice meditative deep breathing if you are feeling anxious about your procedure. Getting a good night’s rest is critical. We also recommend that you stop drinking water four hours before bed so you don’t wake up excessively in the middle of the night to urinate.

What Can I Expect on the Day of My Procedure?

Incision Locations

On the day of your procedure, the incision points on your arm will be marked. While there are several techniques we have at our disposal to use, based on your unique aesthetic goals, we will usually make your incisions on the back or inside of your arms.

When a less extensive correction is necessary, the incision is made in your underarm. More extensive cases require an incision to be made extending from your underarm to the top of your elbow.


As stated previously, your anesthesiologist will determine before your procedure whether local or general anesthesia is better for you. This depends partly on your heart and lung health. It also depends partly on the technique used, the extent of the procedure, and whether you also have other procedures performed at the same time.

Regardless of whether you receive general anesthesia or local anesthesia and sedation, you will be asleep during your procedure. You will experience neither pain nor discomfort. However, you may be drowsy for the 24 hours following your anesthesia or sedation, depending on how quickly your body metabolizes the drugs.

The Procedure Itself

Your board-certified cosmetic surgeon will make the incisions necessary to tighten the skin of your upper arm. Depending on your unique case, he may also reshape your underlying skin tissue, remove excess skin and remove excess fat. If you have a significant amount of excess fat, you may need liposuction to achieve your desired aesthetic.

Going Home

After your procedure, Dr. David Halpern will observe you to ensure all is well. He will review all post-op care instructions and ensure you understand them. You will have filled your prescription antibiotics and analgesics before your procedure.

Ask whoever is driving you home to stay with you for the first 24 hours after your procedure. This is particularly important if you have children or pets to care for. Your sole focus should be on resting, relaxing, and staying hydrated. The day after your procedure you can start to focus on playing with your little ones.

Am I a Good Candidate for This Procedure?

The only way to determine definitively if you are a good candidate for this procedure is to come in for an initial consultation. However, in general, there are several good rules of thumb that help us decide. Here is a brief overview of what we look for:

You Have Fairly Elastic Skin

This confuses a lot of clients. After all, isn’t the point of Brachioplasty to tighten loose skin? Well, it is. But it is still important that your skin is still fairly elastic. Cases where people may have fairly elastic skin but still need Brachioplasty include people who have lost a significant amount of weight and people who are over the age of 29.

To determine if your skin is elastic, pinch your skin away from your body. If it “snaps” back fairly quickly, it is elastic enough to make you a good candidate for this procedure. We will test the elasticity of your skin during your initial consultation.

Your Weight Is Fairly Constant

If you lose over 30 pounds, there is an excellent chance that you will end up with loose skin. You may even end up with excess skin. To ensure the results of your procedure last as long as possible, you should try your hardest to not gain or lose over 10 pounds. The best candidate for this procedure has maintained his or her weight for at least six months.

You Don’t Plan to Have Any More Children

There is no risk to you or your future fetus if you have Brachioplasty now and get pregnant later. However, a large portion of pregnancies results in significant weight gain in the upper arms. If you gain too much weight in your upper arms, you may need a maintenance procedure.

Your Skin Is Healthy

The ideal candidate for this procedure has healthy skin. He or she is also committed to keeping his or her skin healthy in the future. During your initial consultation, we will review your lifestyle. Good lifestyle choices for the health of your skin include not consuming nicotine, avoiding unprotected sun exposure and eating nutritious foods.

You should also exercise regularly because exercise is crucial for weight loss and maintenance. It also plays a significant role in the health of your cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Finally, regular exercise is necessary for a healthy circulatory system. A strong circulatory system delivers nutrients to the skin required for skin health.

Discover How to Enhance Your Aesthetic Today

Do you have stubborn pockets of excess fat on your upper arms? Does your skin sag? Do your upper arms jiggle? Do you think an arm lift could enhance your self-confidence? If so, Brachioplasty might be right for you.

To learn more, contact us today at Tampa Bay Plastic Surgery to schedule your initial consultation. We can’t wait to meet you and help you achieve your ideal aesthetic.

Schedule your consultation with Dr. David E. Halpern today

Dr. David E. Halpern is Tampa’s nationally renowned triple-board certified plastic surgeon, carefully blending expertise and artistry with extraordinary care. For the past two decades, Dr. Halpern’s dedication to exceptional care and commitment to his patients have made him Tampa’s most trusted plastic surgeon. Place your confidence in the capable hands of Tampa plastic surgeon Dr. David E. Halpern by scheduling a consultation today.

Tampa Bay Plastic Surgery is located in the Hyde Park area of South Tampa. We serve patients in Tampa Bay, Hyde Park, and out-of-town patients across Florida and beyond.

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