Arm Contouring: Review and Current Concepts

Aesthet Surg J. 2018 Jul 13;38(8):850-860. doi: 10.1093/asj/sjx218.


Arm contour improvement is a desired goal of the massive weight loss and the aging population who want to maintain the arm aesthetics. Brachioplasty is a growing and safe procedure to improve the arm contour and different approaches and innovative treatment options have been described since the 1930s. This paper reviews the relevant literature in arm contouring including surgical and nonsurgical procedures used to aesthetically improve the arm. A comprehensive literature review was performed using the words "brachioplasty," "arm lift," "arm contouring," "arm liposuction," "noninvasive arm lift," "minimally invasive arm lift." Commonly used techniques, classification systems, and procedure outcomes are described. The review demonstrated that there are several methods to accomplish good arm contouring. There is no consensus about the best incision type and location, but the classification systems help guide treatment. Assessment of fat excess, skin excess, and location of the deformity (proximal, entire arm, arm and chest) help determine the best approach including liposuction only, skin resection only, a combination of liposuction and excision, or even the use of nonsurgical devices. Infection, hematoma, and unsatisfactory scars are the most commonly reported complications. Brachioplasty is a growing procedure and can be performed with low complication rates and good patient satisfaction. Classification systems stratify deformities to the ideal treatment but no studies have shown the superiority of any technique. Nonsurgical fat removal and skin tightening of the arms are promising procedures for selected patients and higher levels of evidence are needed to show clear indication for different technologies and devices.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arm / anatomy & histology
  • Arm / physiology
  • Arm / surgery*
  • Body Contouring / adverse effects
  • Body Contouring / methods*
  • Body Contouring / trends
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures / adverse effects
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures / methods
  • Dermatologic Surgical Procedures / trends
  • Humans
  • Lipectomy / adverse effects
  • Lipectomy / methods
  • Lipectomy / trends
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss / physiology*