The Diverse World of Arm Lift Techniques

By: Dr. J. Timothy Katzen


Introduction to the Diverse World of Arm Lift Techniques
Technically known as brachioplasties, arm lifts have gained popularity recently. These surgeries offer aesthetic and functional improvements for individuals seeking to change the contour of their arms. With a variety of arm lift techniques available, choosing the right procedure can be a challenging task. This guide aims to shed light on the types of arm lift incisions and which one to chose based on your needs.

Crescent Brachioplasty: Minimal Invasion for Targeted Refinement:
The crescent brachioplasty focuses on a crescent-shaped incision in the armpit region. The method works for people who need a small lift or reduction in their upper arm area. One primary advantage is the hidden scar which makes the crescent most favorite among patients concerned about scars. However, the crescent brachioplasty may not be suitable for addressing significant sagging or excess arm skin at the elbows. Instead, this is an ideal solution for those seeking targeted adjustments of the upper one-third of the arm.

1.) Ideal Candidates for a Crescent Brachioplasty:

A crescent brachioplasty is not suitable for everyone. A crescent brachioplasty is an excellent option for individuals seeking targeted, less-invasive arm contouring.
The following are the types of patients who are suitable for a crescent brachioplasty.

  • Individuals with Mild Arm Sagging: Those who do not have significant sagging in the arms but notice a slight drop, especially near the armpit, are prime candidates for a crescent brachioplasty.
  • Targeted Excess Skin Near the Armpit: The procedure is particularly effective for individuals with excess skin localized mainly around the armpit area. The crescent incision allows for precise removal of redundant skin, providing a firmer appearance.
  • Not undergone Massive Weight Loss: People who have experienced significant weight loss develop a substantial amount of loose skin on their arms. For these patients, a crescent brachioplasty may not be an effective solution. Thus, individuals with modest weight fluctuations are more suited to this technique.
  • Aesthetic Refinement Seekers: Some candidates might opt for a procedure for a more refined and sculpted look around the armpit and upper arm.

2.) The Modified T Brachioplasty Procedure:

The modified T arm lift procedure combines the crescent-shaped incision technique with an additional extended incision, offering a broader scope for skin and fat removal. Initiated with the crescent incision in the underarm area, your plastic surgeon makes an extended incision, allowing for more comprehensive removal of excess skin and fat. The technique causes more scarring than the crescent arm lift. However, the modified T arm lift does not create a long scar from the arm lift to elbow as is associated with the traditional brachioplasty. The modified T enhances arm contouring while keeping scarring relatively discreet.

Assessing the Right Candidates for the Modified T:

Ideal candidates for the modified T brachioplasty include:

  • Individuals with Moderate Arm Sagging: Those who have sagged beyond the armpit but not excessively spanning the entire arm might find this method beneficial.
  • Seekers of Comprehensive Contouring with Discreet Scarring: The technique offers a “middle ground” for those desiring significant contouring but with scars less prominent than full brachioplasties.

However, only some people are suitable for modified T brachioplasty. The following typers of patients would not do well with the modified T arm lift:

  • Those with Pronounced Excess Skin and Fat around the Elbow: While more extensive than the crescent technique, the procedure might not adequately address individuals with substantial skin laxity around the elbow region.
  • Extreme Weight Fluctuation Cases: People who have undergone massive weight loss and have extensive sagging throughout the arm require more comprehensive techniques.
  • The modified T arm lift serves a particular niche for arm lift candidates.

3.) Modified Longitudinal (Mini) Brachioplasty:

The Modified Longitudinal or Mini Brachioplasty is a surgical approach in which the incision begins at the armpit and extends partially down the arm. This technique offers a middle ground for individuals who require more than just a crescent lift but do not need a full-length arm lift.

  • Less Invasive: Compared to full-length brachioplasty procedures, the method is less invasive, making the recovery process more manageable for many patients.
  • Addresses Moderate Sagging: Ideally suited for individuals experiencing moderate sagging, the mini brachioplasty effectively targets and removes excess arm skin and fat.


  • Will Not Fully Address Extensive Sagging: The procedure is less effective for individuals with severe sagging, particularly in areas closer to the elbow or beyond.
  • Restrictions in Resection: While effective, the mini brachioplasty has limits. For significant resections, more comprehensive techniques might be necessary.

The Modified Longitudinal (Mini) Brachioplasty offers a nuanced approach, providing significant results for those in the moderate sagging bracket.

4.) Partial Longitudinal Traditional Brachioplasty (Armpit to Elbow):

The traditional brachioplasty involves an incision that begins at the armpit and extends to the elbow. The approach ensures that surgeons have a wide surgical field to allow thorough resection of excess skin and fat.

  • Holistic Approach to Sagging: Effectively addresses pronounced sagging and surplus skin, ensuring a more contoured and toned look.
  • Popular Method Among Surgeons: Plastic surgeons commonly prefer this technique because of its effectiveness in achieving desired results.


  • Prominent Scarring: Given the length of the incision, a visible scar remains on the inner side of the arm post-surgery.
  • Extended Recovery: Owing to the comprehensive nature of the surgery, patients might find that the recovery period is slightly longer compared to less invasive arm lifts.

Determining the Right Candidate for Traditional Arm Brachioplasty:

Typically, the traditional brachioplasty is most appropriate for individuals who have experienced significant weight loss and suffer from excess sagging arm skin. Furthermore, genetics also play a pivotal role in our skin's elasticity and strength to hold fat. Despite not having undergone significant weight loss, some individuals might still observe sagging in the arms. In such cases, the genetic predisposition towards looser skin or localized fat accumulation makes these patients prime candidates for a traditional brachioplasty.
If you observe pronounced sagging in your arms due to a massive weight loss journey or genetic factors, the traditional brachioplasty might be a suitable solution.

5.) Complete Longitudinal or Full or Extended Brachioplasty (Armpit to Wrist):

The extended brachioplasty is a specialized surgical procedure characterized by an incision that begins at the armpit and extends to the wrist. A rare method with a comprehensive approach addresses sagging or excess skin on both the upper arm and forearm.

  • Holistic Treatment for Arm and Forearm: This method effectively treats individuals who notice sagging or excess skin on the upper arm and the forearm.
  • Comprehensive Scope: The technique ensures uniformity in appearance and texture from the shoulder to the wrist.


  • Extended Scar Presence: Given the extended incision length, a prominent scar remains along the inner side of the arm, stretching from the armpit to the pinky side of the wrist.
  • Long Recovery Period: This arm lift’s expansive nature means patients might experience a lengthier recovery than other, less invasive arm lift techniques.

Interestingly, an extended brachioplasty finds favor among many elderly patients. With natural aging, the forearm skin can display signs of sagging, often exacerbated by genetic factors weight fluctuations, and sun damage. Hence, by choosing this technique, elderly patients can effectively address their surplus of forearm skin.

Concluding Thoughts:
All the arm lift techniques discussed above carefully address unique requirements and the patient's aesthetic objectives. Tailored approaches in procedures like brachioplasties ensure that every patient receives care befitting their requirements. Engaging with experts in the field is paramount. A brachioplasty may be the best solution to get the desired toned, sculpted look if you have excess skin and fat in your arms. Many patients are frustrated when they lose weight and do not have the final result they envisioned. Also, aging can take a toll on our appearance and leave us with stubborn fat deposits and hanging arm skin.
Dr. Katzen is scheduling initial consultations for patients interested in a brachioplasty, arm lift or arm reductions. If you are also interested in other plastic surgery procedures, Dr. Katzen will discuss his recommendations during your initial consultation.
Dr. Katzen meets with patients in person at his Beverly Hills, CA, Las Vegas, NV, and Dubai UAE offices. Alternatively, virtual appointments are available via FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp, and Skype.
Please call (310) 859-7770 to schedule your initial consultation and achieve the skinny arms of your dreams.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.