Recovery after Arm Lift Surgery – How to get the best results

Tips for Recovery after Arm Lift Surgery

Arm Lift Surgery or Brachioplasty is a cosmetic plastic surgery that tightens the muscles of the arm by removing excess skin and fat present on the arm giving it a contoured appearance.  This article shares the best tips and ideas for healing and recovery after arm lift.                               

After arm lift surgery you should allow adequate time for your body to heal properly. It requires proper rest and sleep so that your body can recover. Getting enough sleep after your plastic surgery procedure is a critical part of the healing process. Sometimes, it is not easy to find a comfortable and beneficial sleeping position after your plastic surgery procedure. How you sleep following an arm lift surgery is important both for your recovery and the results of the surgery. 

Guide Arm Lift

Preparing for Arm Lift Surgery

You can best prepare for arm lift surgery by:

  • Providing a detailed medical history to your surgeon – including any past medical issues
  • Have a consultation with your surgeon about the risks and your expectations from the surgery
  • Stop smoking and be prepared to not smoke at all for some time after your surgery
  • Stop taking certain medicines like aspirin and blood-thinning medications
  • Take one to two weeks leave from your work after surgery (more if heavy physical work)
  • Prepare your home with support and aids
  • Arrange for someone to drive you home post-surgery 

The surgery for arm lift surgery is relatively normal that re-establish firmness and adds tone to your arms. This usually lasts for 2-3 hours but you can home on the day of the surgery, following a few hours of monitoring. It involves the extraction of excess skin from the undersurface of the arm and tightening of the underlying tissues beneath.

You’ll have discomfort, bruising, and swelling on and near the incision site immediately after the surgery. You can notice the result immediately after the procedure. But, the final outcome will be seen only after the swelling completely recedes.

Post-op – After your Arm Lift Surgery

There will be bandages and you may have to wear a compression garment. This will help keep any swelling down. Because of the anaesthesia and post-operative pain medication, it’s important to have someone drive you home. someone should help take care of you during the first few days of your arm surgery recovery process.

You will be instructed to drink plenty of fluids right after your surgery and avoid any strenuous activity that may include bearing weight or lifting over your head. Staying well hydrated will help to speed up recovery time. It’s equally important to eat a healthy and balanced diet. 

Recovery after Arm Lift Surgery

Recovery time varies from patient to patient as recovery depends on 

  • your health condition 
  • your body’s natural healing abilities 
  • the extent of your surgery 

Immediately after surgery, you may feel minor pain and swelling at the incision site and you may feel nauseous and dizzy due to the side effect of the anesthesia. You should have someone to drive you home and take care of you for the next 24 hours. A surgical drain will be placed to collect any fluids that will accumulate around the incision site. 

  • Generally, recovery after plastic surgery takes around two weeks. So you should take at least two weeks’ leave from your work or up to three weeks in case of an extended arm lift.
  • Stressful activities should be avoided during this period. You also shouldn’t drive and lift heavy objects for two to four weeks after the procedure.
  • You should keep your arms raised as it will help decrease post-operative swelling, and you’re advised only restricted arm movements. 
  • You should wear a compression bandage for up to 6 weeks as they help lessen bruising and swelling and make your rehabilitation easier.
  • Scarring is an unavoidable part of any surgery but it will gradually fade over time. It is crucial to not smoke cigarettes during the recovery period, as it hampers your recovery and can result in a thick scar. See How to Reduce Scars after Arm Lift.

Resting & Sleeping after arm lift surgery:

  • The best position for sleeping for most people after an arm lift surgery is to sleep on your back in the reclined position for the first two weeks while keeping your arms elevated with the help of some pillows because it ensures the drainage of fluids from your upper extremities and reduces inflammation in the surrounding soft tissue.
  • A recliner is considered the best place to sleep for the initial few weeks after arm lift surgery.
  • If you do not have a recliner you can also sleep on a sofa or use a 45-degree wedge on a bed, which can be easily found online, while keeping your arms elevated with the help of pillows and slightly bending the elbows. 
Recovery and Rest after Arm Lift Surgery Image on Dr Carmen Munteanu Blog - Woman in Hospital Scrub Sleeping

Instructions for Recovery after an Arm Lift

You will be provided with specific post-surgery care instruction that may include:  

  • Walking: You should be walking the day after surgery, as this helps to reduce any chances of blood clotting in the legs. You should be able to resume some of your normal daily activities within several days after surgery.
  • Sleeping position: You should sleep on your back for the first two weeks post your upper arm lift surgery while keeping your arms in an elevated position with the help of pillows. Sleeping in this way ensures the drainage of fluids from your upper extremities, while also reducing inflammation.
  • Showering: You will have dressings and drains placed on the incision site, which will be removed on your first post-operative visit. Only after the removal of these can you take a shower. You should pat your incisions dry and wear the compression garment.
  • Swelling: Swelling on the arm may take anywhere from three to five weeks to decrease. Following, post-operative instructions and keeping your arms in an elevated position will help reduce the swelling.
  • Driving: You should not drive a car if you are still taking pain medication as your reflexes and alertness may be altered.
  • Mild Exercise: You should walk, or stretch and move your arms and legs while sitting as it helps reduce swelling and prevent clotting of blood. You should immediately stop the activity if you feel pain or pulling in the incision area.
  • Scarring: Different factors contribute to scar healing. The scars will be firm and pink for about six weeks. It will be at least nine months or a year before your scar will lighten in color and be as level as the rest of your skin.

Risks of Arm Lift Surgery

Arm lift surgery is a relatively safe surgery but it too has some potential risks – many of these can be reduced or avoided with good effort on your Arm lift recovery.

Potential risks of Brachioplasty include: 

  • Complications related to anaesthesia
  • Poor wound healing resulting in a thick scar
  • Change in the sensation of the skin
  • Fluid collection at the incision site 
  • Lymphoedema
  • Pain at the incision site
  • Asymmetry   
  • Undesired results and need for a subsequent procedure

Arm Lift Recovery FAQs – Questions about Recovery

How long do I wear compression sleeves after Brachioplasty?

How long does it take to recover from arm lift surgery?

  • You’ll be able to resume most normal works a week or two after surgery. After six weeks you should be able to resume exercising, whereas the scar will take over a year or more to fade. 

How long are arms swollen after Brachioplasty?

  • Arms will remain swollen for up to two weeks after which swelling will gradually decrease. A small amount of swelling can persist for up to six to eight weeks or more. 

When can I shower after Brachioplasty?

  • You can only shower only after the removal of the stitches, bandages, and drainage tubes. 

Does arm lift leave a scar?

  • The incision in an arm lift is usually large extending from the armpit up to your elbow; the scarring consequently will also be large. However, necessary steps will be taken to make the scar less visible by making the incision carefully towards the inner aspect of the arm. This makes hiding the scar easier. 

Do arm lift scars fade?

  • Yes, arm lift scars do fade. The scars will be firm and pink for about six weeks. It will be at least a year or more before your scar will fade.

How do I sleep after a Brachioplasty?

  • You should consider sleeping on your back keeping your arms in an elevated position for the first few weeks after a Brachioplasty as it helps with recovery. 

When will I see the final result of the Arm Lift surgery?

  • You will not see the final result of your surgery for around six months as it takes six months or over a year for your scar to heal completely.

How long after Brachioplasty can I exercise?

  • You should be able to exercise six weeks after a Brachioplasty. Light, gentle movement should be started soon after surgery to avoid potential for clots and help healing.

What are compression arm sleeves for?

  • A compression arm sleeve helps lessen bruising and swelling and makes your rehabilitation easier by improving blood circulation.

How much does it cost for arm surgery?

  • As the procedure is performed to suit the needs of the patient, the cost according varies according to individuals. The consultation charge, the Surgeon’s fee, an Anesthetist fee, the Surgical Assistant fee, and the hospital costs will be included in the final cost.
  • The item number for Brachioplasty according to Medicare is 30171, so you may be eligible for Medicare and healthcare rebates if you fulfill the necessary criteria. We recommend that you contact Medicare to check if you are eligible.

Further Reading and Medical References

  1. Arm lift – Mayo ClinicMilwaukee, WI Arm Lift Surgery Recovery Timeline – Brachioplasty Healing (
  2. Arm Lift | American Society of Plastic Surgeons (
  3. Arm Lift – After Surgery Instructions – Ralph Bashioum MD (
  4. Arm Lift (Brachioplasty) Overview: Cost, Recovery, Before & After | AEDIT
  5. Upper Arm Lift: Brachioplasty Procedure Overview (
  6. Arm Lift Recovery | After Surgery Instructions (


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