Incidence and Risk Factors of Major Complications in Brachioplasty: Analysis of 2,294 Patients

Aesthet Surg J. 2016 Jul;36(7):792-803. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjv267. Epub 2016 May 23.


Background: Brachioplasty is a popular procedure to correct upper arm ptosis. However, current literature on complications and risk factors is scant and inconclusive.

Objectives: Using a large, prospective, multicenter database, we report the incidence of major complications and risk factors in patients undergoing brachioplasty.

Methods: Patients who underwent brachioplasty between 2008 and 2013 were identified from the CosmetAssure (Birmingham, AL) database. The primary outcome was the occurrence of major complication(s), defined as complications requiring emergency room visit, hospital admission, or reoperation within 30 days of the procedure. Risk factors including age, gender, body mass index (BMI), smoking, diabetes, combined procedures, and type of surgical facility were evaluated using univariate and multivariate analysis.

Results: Within the 129,007 patients enrolled in CosmetAssure, 2294 (1.8%) underwent brachioplasty. Brachioplasty patients were more likely to be older than 50 years (50.1%), obese (36.3%), diabetic (5.5%), but less likely smokers (5.5%). Major complications occurred in 3.4% brachioplasties with infection (1.7%) and hematoma (1.1%) being most common. Combined procedures, performed in 66.8% cases, had a complication rate of 4.4%, in comparison to 1.3% for brachioplasties performed alone. Combined procedures (RR = 3.58), males (RR = 3.44), and BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2) (RR = 1.92) were identified as independent risk factors for the occurrence of any complication. Combined procedures (RR = 12.42), and the male gender (RR = 8.89) increased the risk of hematoma formation.

Conclusions: Complication rates from brachioplasty are much lower than previously reported. Hematoma and infection are the most common major complications. Combined procedures, male gender, and BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2) are independent risk factors for complications. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE 2: Risk.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arm / surgery*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures / adverse effects*
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Young Adult