Arm Lift Overview

Your arms can be one of the most difficult areas to keep firm and sculpted. Even if you work hard to stay fit through diet and exercise, factors like aging, gravity, weight changes and your genetics can still leave you with loose skin and excess fat in your upper arms.

Arm lift surgery with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Matthew J. Nykiel may be the solution. An arm lift reshapes your arms to create smoother skin, more toned contours and a better-proportioned upper body. Dr. Nykiel frequently enhances the procedure with liposuction for additional sculpting.

If you’re considering an arm lift, we invite you to schedule a consultation at Butts By Design in Newport Beach. Dr. Nykiel will discuss the options available to help you rediscover the confidence that comes with having arms you’re proud to show off.

What Is Arm Lift Surgery?

Arm lift surgery, medically known as brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure that reshapes your upper arms by removing excess skin and fat. The procedure specifically targets the area between your underarm and your elbow, which is where we are most likely to develop sagging and loose skin.

During an arm lift, Dr. Nykiel makes an incision along the inside or back of the arm. This incision allows him to trim away skin and fat and adjust the underlying tissues. In some cases, he uses liposuction to remove larger amounts of fat and further refine the contours of the arms.

Once the targeted amount of skin and fat have been removed, Dr. Nykiel tightens the remaining skin and closes the incisions. The result is a sleeker, more youthful arm contour that better complements your overall figure.

Why Choose Arm Lift Surgery?

We all fight a constant battle against gravity. As we get older, our skin becomes less elastic and starts to sag. This drooping skin may make us feel old, out of shape, self-conscious or uncomfortable in outfits we once loved. If this sounds familiar, an arm lift may help you achieve a more youthful look.

Weight loss is a goal for many people, but it is not always the final destination. Losing a substantial amount of weight can leave you with excess skin that detracts from the sense of achievement that comes with successful weight loss. An arm lift can help you complete your transformation by reshaping your arms to match your new figure.

Sometimes, excess upper arm skin can cause functional issues in addition to cosmetic concerns. Sagging skin can cause chafing and irritation, interfere with hygiene and make certain activities or clothing choices uncomfortable. By eliminating the physical discomfort and limitations caused by sagging skin, an arm lift can restore your freedom of movement and quality of life.

Am I a Candidate for an Arm Lift in Newport Beach?

Ideal candidates for arm lift surgery typically meet the following criteria:

  • Have significant loose, sagging skin on the upper arms (“bat wings”)
  • Are at or near their preferred body weight
  • Have realistic expectations about the outcome of the surgery
  • Are in good overall health
  • Are non-smokers or willing to quit smoking before and after surgery
  • Are committed to keeping up a healthy lifestyle after surgery

A Note From Dr. Nykiel

When patients come to me with concerns about their upper arms, they often ask whether they should choose an arm lift or arm liposuction. The key thing to consider is what’s really bothering you.

If your main issue is excess fat, liposuction is the solution. Liposuction is built specifically for removing stubborn fat deposits. Although there can be some degree of skin tightening with liposuction, it’s ideal if you have good skin elasticity, as that means your skin should contract over your new contours after the fat is gone.

If you have a lot of loose or sagging skin on your upper arms, then an arm lift may be the better choice. Any time you hear the word “lift,” we’re talking about a procedure that removes excess skin. This is especially popular with our patients who have lost a substantial amount of weight and have hanging skin left over.

To keep it simple, think “lipo = fat” and “lift = skin.” If you’re interested in both, I often combine them to remove excess fat and skin simultaneously.

What Are the Treatment Steps for an Arm Lift?

Dr. Nykiel begins the arm lift procedure by making an incision. The type, length and placement of incision will depend on the extent of excess skin you wish to remove. Dr. Nykiel will discuss the available options during your preoperative consultation and together you will agree on an approach that suits your needs.

Through the chosen incisions, Dr. Nykiel will carefully remove the excess skin and fat from your upper arms. He will also reshape the underlying tissues to ensure a smooth, contoured arm profile and durable results. Once this is done, Dr. Nykiel will close the incisions using advanced suturing techniques that minimize scarring and promote proper healing.

The arm lift procedure typically takes between one and three hours to complete. You will be able to go home the same day.

What Techniques Does Dr. Nykiel Use During an Arm Lift?

The incision technique (and the resulting scar pattern) for arm lift surgery primarily depends on the amount of skin that must be removed. No matter which technique is used, Dr. Nykiel’s goal is to optimize your results and minimize scarring. He will go over options like the following during your consultation:

Standard Arm Lift Incision

The standard incision allows for significant removal of excess skin and fat, as well as tightening of the underlying tissues. The incision may be placed along the back of the arm or the inner arm. In both cases, it extends from the armpit to the elbow.

Extended Arm Lift Incision

An extended incision that runs across the armpit and down the side of the chest is sometimes necessary to address substantial amounts of excess skin and fat. This technique may be recommended for patients who have undergone significant weight loss.

Minimal Arm Lift Incision

For patients with mild skin laxity and minimal excess fat, a small incision near the armpit may be sufficient. This approach results in less scarring but may not achieve as dramatic a transformation as the other techniques.

What Anesthesia Is Used During Arm Lift Surgery?

Arm lift surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia to ensure your comfort and safety. Dr. Nykiel works with board-certified anesthesiologists to provide the most appropriate anesthesia option for your individual needs.

“There are no words to describe how my experience was with Dr. Nykiel and his team. Very welcoming and super nice staff. Always answer your questions and follow up with you. The doctor is an expert and knows what he is doing. He is very honest and will tell you what’s best for your body. I love my result and I am so thankful. Save your time and go straight to the BEST!”

— Selva M.

What Goes Into the Recovery Process?

Dr. Nykiel and the Butts By Design team provide comprehensive support throughout your recovery.

After your arm lift procedure, your arms will be bandaged, and you may experience some swelling and discomfort. If Dr. Nykiel placed drains in the incisions to remove excess fluids, they will be removed a few days later during a follow-up appointment. You will wear a compression garment for four to six weeks to minimize swelling and help your arms adapt to their new contours.

Most patients can resume their normal daily activities within one to two weeks. However, you must avoid strenuous physical activities, particularly heavy lifting, for up to six weeks to give your body time to heal. It’s especially important that you don’t lift your arms above your shoulders during the first few weeks. These restrictions are in place so you don’t strain your incisions.

Dr. Nykiel will give you a detailed timeline for resuming activities and will guide you through the process of gradually increasing your physical activity level.

How Is Pain Managed During Arm Lift Recovery?

You deserve to have the most comfortable and stress-free recovery possible. To this end, Dr. Nykiel has developed a comprehensive pain management protocol that addresses pain from multiple angles.


Dr. Nykiel’s pain control measures begin before your arm lift surgery. Studies have shown that starting pain management before surgery begins can significantly enhance post-surgery pain control.


During your arm lift procedure, Dr. Nykiel uses general anesthesia. He also incorporates long-acting local anesthetics during surgery to reduce immediate postoperative pain and discomfort.


Your personalized post-surgery pain management regimen will include multiple medications that target different types of pain. Dr. Nykiel may also recommend nonpharmacological techniques, such as cold compresses and strategic positioning.

With this multi-faceted approach, patients who undergo arm lift surgery at Butts By Design often describe their postoperative pain as minimal to mild.

What Are the Risks of Arm Lift Surgery?

While arm lift surgery is generally safe when performed by an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Nykiel, you should still understand the potential risks associated with the procedure. Being well-informed allows you to make a confident decision about whether an arm lift is right for you.

Some of the potential risks of this procedure include:

  • Infection
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Hematoma or seroma
  • Poor scarring
  • Changes in skin sensation (temporary or permanent)
  • Anesthesia complications
  • Asymmetry in the shape or size of the arms

We welcome your questions or concerns at any time. We encourage you to discuss them openly with Dr. Nykiel so that he can provide you with the information and guidance you need for peace of mind.

A Note From Dr. Nykiel

I believe that achieving the best possible results for your arm lift surgery requires a combination of technical skill and artistic vision.

My job is not just to remove excess skin. I also act as a sculptor focused on creating a beautiful, natural-looking shape. I keep my eye on details like making a smooth transition from your shoulder to your elbow and creating proportions that complement the rest of your body.

No two patients are alike, and what works for one person may not work for another. That’s why it’s so important to me to get to know you and take a personalized approach to your procedure. There’s nothing I want more than for you to feel heard and to love your results.

When Will I See the Final Results of My Arm Lift?

Immediately after your procedure, you may notice a change in the contour or size of your arms. The excess skin and fat are gone right away, but with swelling, bruising and surgical dressings present, it’s too early to judge your final results.

As you heal, the swelling and bruising will gradually subside, and you’ll start to get a better sense of your new arm contours. Your incisions will gradually fade and flatten over time. Follow Dr. Nykiel’s postoperative instructions carefully to help your scars heal.

Within a few months, the majority of the swelling should have dissipated, and your arms should look smoother, tighter and more toned. You will have a good idea of your final results at this point.

Is an Arm Lift Permanent?

An arm lift can provide long-lasting improvements in the contour and appearance of your arms. Once excess skin and fat are removed, whether through excision or liposuction, they will not return on their own.

However, no surgery can stop the natural aging process. As you get older, your skin will continue to lose elasticity, and some degree of sagging may gradually reappear. A dramatic change in your weight can also impact your results.

To get the most out of your surgery, you should follow a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and a balanced diet. Strength training can be a great way to see even more improvement in the shape of your upper arms, not to mention the benefits it has for lowering your risk of disease and improving your overall health.

“If I could give more than 5 stars I would! The staff was amazing, very helpful and answered all my questions! I would highly recommend Dr Nykiel 👌 he listened to what I wanted and my expectations and I am beyond happy with the results. Thank you so much! I would definitely use them again!”

— Catherine R.

Contact Our Board-Certified Arm Lift Surgeon in Newport Beach

Toned arms are within reach! To learn more about arm lift surgery with Dr. Matthew J. Nykiel, schedule a consultation at Butts By Design.

We offer in-person consultations at our Newport Beach and Upland locations, as well as the convenience of virtual consultations you can attend from anywhere. Book your appointment online or call 949-416-0038 to speak with a member of our concierge team.