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Sieber Plastic Surgery San Francisco

What Is Arm Liposuction?

Want slimmer arms this summer? Let’s talk about Arm lift.
Many people are self-conscious about the way their arms look — especially the upper arms. For much of the year, however, they’re easy to conceal by wearing long sleeves and sweaters. It’s when June and July roll around that summer fashions, rising temperatures, and endless beach days mean lots of short-sleeves and bathing suits.

It’s certainly harder to hide your arms in these styles.

If you’d like to look better with exposed arms this summer — or any time of year — arm liposuction offers the ideal solution.

What is arm liposuction or Arm lift? In the following article, we’ll take a look at what this procedure involves and how it can help you achieve slim and attractive arms with minimal downtime and scarring.

Arm Liposuction Before and After

This 45 year old female underwent liposuction of her arms to improve the contour.


San Francisco arm liposuction is the removal of excess fat from the the arms. The procedure is almost always preformed on the upper arms — usually along the backside and sometimes around the outside of the arm as well. The individual’s fat distribution plays a large role in whether they are a good candidate for this procedure and where and how much fat will be removed.

Arm Liposuction vs Arm Lift

Not everyone who is unhappy with the size and shape of their arms is a good candidate for arm lipo. That’s largely because some patients may have excess skin on their arms in addition to excess fat. In this case, the extra skin would need to be removed with a procedure called brachioplasty — also known as an arm lift.

The core difference between arm liposuction and an arm lift is that with liposuction, only fat is removed. On the other hand, an arm lift will remove excess skin and tissue, and sometimes, liposuction is used in conjunction to also remove excess fat. It all depends upon the patient and their unique anatomy.

It’s also important to mention that this surgery will require a long incision to be made from the armpit to the elbow. Unfortunately, this is the only way to remove a lateral amount of skin on this part of the body.

There is no way to fully conceal the scar that results from brachioplasty — although it should be less noticeable with the talent of a skillful surgeon, who, in most cases, will situate it on the inner side of the upper arm. With proper care, it should also fade with time and become less noticeable.

Improving Arm Shape After Significant Weight Loss

Patients who have lost a large amount of weight often have excess skin they would like to get rid of. It’s not uncommon for these patients to inquire about slimming their arms with arm liposuction. Actually, however, a different procedure is usually best for these patients.

The reason for the flabby arms is the initial weight gain and subsequent loss. When fat accumulates, the skin stretches to accommodate it. Later, when the fat is lost, the skin retains its larger size.

As a result, the bulk that is left over after weight loss is generally skin — not fat. And this means that an under arm lift surgery (brachioplasty) — not liposuction — is generally the best option.

Improving the Appearance of Aging Arms with Arm Lift

Time and gravity can also be culprits when it comes to excess skin. Even a patient who has been at a relatively even weight their whole lives may experience sagging and excess arm skin as they reach their 50s, 60s, and beyond. Again, an arm lift can improve the problem of excess skin and tissue for these patients. Liposuction is usually not the answer in this case.


Both men and women get arm liposuction. However, women, in particular, tend to store excess fat in the upper arms. Usually, it settles around the back of the upper arms and sometimes on the outer arms. Slimming these areas is generally a quick and simple process if the patient is a good candidate.

The best candidates for arm liposuction have excess bulk in their arms but don’t have a considerable amount of hanging skin. This allows their surgeon to contour new shape to the arms so as to show off the underlying musculature. By removing even a small amount of fat, the patient can achieve smaller, sleeker arms.

In addition to being in good health and having realistic expectations about surgery, here are some of the most important qualities Dr. Sieber will be looking for in arm lipo candidates.

Adequate Fat Stores

The patient must have enough excess fat to remove. That’s because irregularities might arise if Dr. Sieber were to perform liposuction on arms that didn’t have enough fat. Divots and dimples might appear on the skin, and the procedure would actually cause the arms to look worse.

Good Skin Quality

To perform any liposuction procedure, including arm lipo, it’s critical that the skin be of good quality. Most importantly, Dr. Sieber will be looking for the skin to have good elasticity. This means that it will “snap back” or retract after being stretched.

For instance, some lucky patients may not notice any loose skin after losing weight. Some women may not have any sagging skin after pregnancy either. These patients usually have good “skin elasticity.” It’s generally a feature of younger individuals.

That’s because as we age, the skin tends to succumb to gravity and sag down. Simultaneously, the amount of skin elastin and collagen produced is reduced, which means that that youthful bounce and plumpness disappears.

Patients without good skin elasticity may still benefit from liposuction. But their surgeon will notify them that they may have some sagging skin after surgery. Some patients won’t mind this and will care more about removing the fat. Other patients will decide to steer clear of the procedure or may opt for an arm lift instead.


When performed alone, most arm liposuction surgeries take just one to three hours.

First, you will arrive at the hospital or surgical facility where you will meet with our staff and be welcomed into your preoperative room. Here, Dr. Sieber will want to speak with you briefly before your surgery and may make some markings on your arms for reference during surgery.

Anesthesia for Arm Liposuction

Different types of anesthesia can be used for arm liposuction. Often, surgeons will prefer to use local anesthesia. This means that you will be awake during the surgery and, often, will be able to move your arm here and there during the procedure so that your surgeon can have easier access to all sides.

Sometimes, however, patients are unnerved by the idea of being even partially awake during surgery. These patients may prefer to have general anesthesia. The decision concerning which anesthesia to use during surgery will be partially yours and partially Dr. Sieber’s.

Arm Liposuction Incisions

Only small incisions are necessary for arm liposuction. In each arm, patients generally require just one to two tiny incisions — sometimes, three. Most arm liposuction incisions are just one-eighth of an inch to one-fourth of an inch long.

After the initial anesthesia has been administered, Dr. Sieber will make the incisions. Where the incisions are placed will depend on multiple factors — one of which is what the gradient or direction of fat is for the patients. This is different in everyone. For example, some people have more fat at the base of their upper arm, near the elbow. Others tend to carry the bulk of their arm fat up toward the shoulder.


Because arm liposuction is nearly always an outpatient procedure, you should be able to return home on the same day as your surgery. At the surgical facility, you will be released wearing the same full compression garment or garments you were outfitted with at the end of your procedure. These garments must be worn for at least four to six weeks — only taking them off to shower.

Liposuction recovery  usually takes around two weeks. At this point, much of the swelling will be gone. Overall, healing from arm liposuction is not as challenging as some other procedures like tummy tucks and breast augmentation. You will be able to do most things, but there are some caveats, and you will experience some swelling and soreness, especially right after surgery.

Essentially, during your recovery, Dr. Sieber will want you to:

  • Relax and take it easy
  • Wear your compression garments
  • Avoid lifting heavy objects
  • Avoid doing anything that will elevate your heart rate or blood pressure
  • Stay out of the sun (or wear sunscreen and protective clothing and use shade if you must be outside)
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Rest and sleep often
  • Consume a nutritious diet
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs

About two weeks after your procedure, you should be able to resume light workouts. By the same time, a lot of the swelling will have dissipated. Keep in mind, however, that it may take up to two or three months before you see the majority of your arm liposuction results.

Wearing Your Compression Garments

It is critical that patients wear their compression garments for about four to six weeks after surgery. These garments (which look like shirt sleeves) will help to redrape the skin around the arms.

Essentially, the arm circumference will have swollen after surgery and will continue to swell as healing takes place in the following weeks. You do not want the skin on your arms to naturally heal and repair itself at this larger (swollen) circumference, however. Instead, the goal is for the skin on the arms to shrink to the ultimate size that the arm will be after the swelling has gone down. This is also the reason healthy skin elasticity is so important in arm liposuction candidates.


This depends on cosmetic surgery. If the patient is seeking all over liposuction, the arms can usually be included in this procedure. If other procedures such as a or breast surgery are going to be performed at the same time, however, this may pose some problems.

This is simply because you need your arms to get around and support yourself after a significant surgery like a tummy tuck or breast augmentation in San Francisco. After these surgeries, your arms will be critical for getting in and out of bed, dressing and caring for your wounds, and performing other necessary tasks.

If you’ve had arm liposuction in conjunction with these other surgeries, it may make getting around nearly impossible for several weeks — or a significant challenge, at the very least.

This isn’t to say that you can’t eventually get a tummy tuck and arm liposuction. However, your surgeon may want to put a space between these procedures so that you can heal adequately from each one.


How long does it take for arm lipo to heal?

Healing from liposuction takes several weeks. Most patients will be able to resume work and things like light exercise around two weeks after surgery. You’ll need to wear your compression garments for around four to six weeks.

How long do arms stay swollen after liposuction?

For most patients, the majority of swelling after arm liposuction will persist for around two weeks. However, some residual swelling may go on for at least two to three months after surgery.

Does arm liposuction get rid of excess skin?

No. If you have a significant amount of excess, sagging skin on your upper arms, liposuction will not get rid of this. In fact, liposuction may be contraindicated in this case. However, you may be a candidate for brachioplasty (an arm lift).

Does arm lipo really work?

Although arm liposuction tightens upper arm skin, outcomes may not be enduring. Without diet and lifestyle maintenance, fat could return to the treated area.

What does arm liposuction cost?

The expense for upper arm liposuction surgery varies based on the procedure type and the extent of excess arm fat or fat removal required.


Stop hiding your arms under sweaters and long sleeves! Achieve the slim, toned arms you’ve always wanted with arm liposuction in San Francisco.

Dr. Sieber is board certified plastic surgeon and one of the only double board-certified plastic surgeons in the Bay Area. He would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your goals. Contact Dr. Sieber’s office today to book your consultation appointment!



Dr. Dave Sieber and his staff are so awesome! Dr. Sieber is personable yet professional, his work is impeccable. He listens to his patient and works with them to achieve what they want. He’s like my hair dresser, a magician, you just want to do a happy dance with the results, only these results are lasting. Ok, but seriously, the procedure was very smooth, the staff and the doctors (Dr Sieber and the anesthesiologist) had great communication and made sure I was comfortable with very clear and concise pre op and post op directions. The healing process was very easy and the results are FABULOUS. Side note, Dr. Sieber has really awesome skin, I feel like this is impressive and important because really, would you trust a dentist with bad teeth? I am so elated and satisfied with the results, the size is perfect and they look and feel very natural. They are exactly what I wanted.*

SF Scientist

Dr. Sieber is a doctor who is not only extremely knowledgeable about the latest in cosmetic procedures, but a doctor who truly cares about his patients. I highly recommend him!*


Dr. Sieber is a doctor who is not only extremely knowledgeable about the latest in cosmetic procedures, but a doctor who truly cares about his patients. I highly recommend him!*


Dr. Sieber is attentive, responsive, and well trained. I had seen him for Botox and filler and he had done both without any pain or bruising and more importantly the results were fabulous. He has met with me on time at each appointment. He communicates what to expect, made sure I was comfortable throughout the procedure, checked on my healing every day post procedure. He couldn’t be more delightful not more talented. I had seen other plastic surgeons for in office treatments over the past decade and Dr. Sieber is at the top of the list in terms of delivering the desired outcome and high quality care.*

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