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Michael C. Fasching, M.D.

Board Certified Plastic Surgeon


Brachioplasty or Liposuction: Which Procedure Suits Your Needs?

Submitted by Dr. Fasching on Tue 08/13/2019 - 19:46

Every year, millions of Americans find themselves looking in a mirror overcome with anxiety or discomfort over their physical appearance. Especially as summer comes into full swing, you may be wishing you could pull on a short sleeve shirt, tank top or sleeveless dress without a second guess.

Dr. Fasching understands the challenges of living in a body you do not love and has dedicated his career and practice to making your dreams a reality. You don’t need to worry about the tone or size of your arms any longer. Whether you have struggled with your weight over a lifetime, or if you are facing the challenges and changes of aging–we can help.

Through a consultation process to pinpoint your exact needs and anatomy, Dr. Fasching can recommend a personalized treatment plan to boost your confidence and give you the body you deserve. Cutting edge plastic surgery procedures, such as brachioplasty and liposuction, help to eliminate pesky loose skin and fat, giving you sleek, toned upper arms in a matter of hours. 

Patients have two unique surgical options at their disposal, which depending on your circumstance can work alone or in tandem.

Brachioplasty, or an arm lift, is often used in conjunction with liposuction, offering patients a direct path to more attractive upper arms. If after a consultation and brief evaluation you are considered to be a proper candidate, Dr. Fasching and his team of expert technicians and surgeons can utilize these techniques to contour and sculpt the arms of your dreams. 

Ideal candidates are patients with loose skin in the upper arm or a combination of excess fatty tissue and loose skin, which lead to a disproportionate appearance in relation to the rest of your body. If a woman has excess fat in the arm, often appearing as “sagging” or hanging fat when the arm is raised, liposuction can be used alone if the skin is not loose. 

Keeping Up with Your Body as it Changes: Brachioplasty vs. Liposuction

As you grow older, aging processes allow difficult to reverse fat cells to settle throughout the body, especially in the upper arms, and can cause unwanted size or lack of firmness. Weight fluctuation at any age, or pregnancy, can further complicate things, leaving excess skin that may be hanging freely between your shoulders and elbows. While your muscle tone can be addressed by working on a routine of target exercises, sagging skin and excess fat are often tougher to deal with. That’s where Dr. Fasching comes in.

These changes can be incredibly tough to bear and lead to a deep feeling of dissatisfaction with your appearance. But, you can choose to use these break-through techniques and take control of getting back to or discovering toned, sculpted, gorgeous arms. 


Liposuction is the number one body contouring procedure in the country, and for good reason. This proven treatment removes unwanted fat, which has not responded to diets or exercise. Liposuction for the upper arms is a common and relatively low risk procedure with guaranteed results of a shapelier, tight outline. 

There are multiple liposuction techniques, all with their own unique benefits. Dr. Fasching offers three different processes depending on your needs and desired outcome. All of these procedures involve the insertion of a cannula (a narrow tubular device) through a tiny incision followed by suctioning out unwanted fat.

To learn more about the specific techniques, read on here

All procedures begin with a consultation, during which your surgeon highlights the specific areas you want fat suctioned from. Markings to guide your surgeon will be places to give clear indication of where fat will be removed. 

If Dr. Fasching feels that liposuction will be successful as a singular operation, often the case for younger patients with more elastic skin, this procedure will take a matter of hours. 


An arm lift (Brachioplasty), on the other hand, is a surgical procedure which removes excess skin from the upper arms. As your skin becomes less elastic and starts to sag with age, you have fewer and fewer options to naturally reverse this process. Especially for patients who have lost a great deal of weight, either do to weight loss surgery, dieting or other causes of significant weight fluctuation, brachioplasty offers ideal outcomes. 

Brachioplasty is a great option for older patients, over weight patients, or thinner patients who have recently lost a significant amount of weight and wish to give their arms a firmer, more toned appearance. Or if you are suffering from what many people infamously call “bat wing” arms, an arm lift is the perfect surgical option to easily rectify sagging upper arms. 

If you have slim arms, without excess fat, but are experiencing hanging or loose arm skin, then a skin reduction alone is likely suitable. By removing a discreetly places ellipse of skin, your surgeon will carefully repair and tone your arm to minimize the visibility of any scarring as much as possible.

Brachioplasty and Liposuction FAQs

While these two procedures can be preformed alone, most often patients require a combination of liposuction and skin reduction to achieve the perfect arms they desire. Dr. Fasching will carefully and caringly work with you to find the right fit.

Am I a Good Candidate for Arm Surgery?

Brachioplasty and Liposuction can be performed at any age, as long as you are in reasonably good health. 

If you are currently planning to lose a significant amount of weight or are mid-lifestyle change, it may be worth postponing the surgery until you’ve reached your goal weight, as surgery can effect these results. 

If you are a smoker, you will need to quit at least four to six weeks before surgery. 

Why Doesn’t Liposuction Alone Solve the Problem?

Often patients request liposuction alone because of its non-existent scarring and popularity. However, if you have excess arm skin, for most patients an arm lift, not liposuction, is the ideal fix.

Liposuction alone cannot treat the entire problem of excess skin for most people. Even if the surgeon removes underlying fat, the excess skin remains hanging. So, many patients receive an arm lift to complete their transformation to toned, firm arms.

What Happens During Liposuction?

Once you are determined to be fit to go through Liposuction, Dr. Fasching will schedule your procedure. On the day of the treatment, you will need to fast for six hours, abstaining from any food or drinks.

When you arrive at our Minneapolis office, the procedure usually takes an hour to an hour and a half. Before receiving sedation, a local anesthesia is administered via an incredibly small incision at on key points on the arm, shoulders, and back to prepare you for a painless operation. Dr. Fasching will then use a blunt-tip cannula to suction out fat in desired areas and sculpt the arm to a beautiful aesthetic appearance. 

What is the Liposuction Recovery Process Like?

As soon as the procedure is done, you will see that your arms are noticeably smaller. You can expect your arms to be this size or smaller after the recover period depending on your diet and exercise habits. 

Once you are awake, recovery has begun! The first two weeks are an especially important time in the healing process. Here’s what to expect:

Immediately Afterward

You will wake up and the area will be wrapped. Usually some excess blood, fatty acids and possible anesthesia will come out of the incisions for 24 to 48 hours. Sanitary pads absorb any possible drips and should be changed regularly to ensure healing and lower risk of infection. 

3 to 7 Days 

You will be asked to come in for a check-up. Afterwards, you have to wear a binder for 24 hours to 7 days to help the shaping process. Antibiotics and pain relievers will be prescribed to be taken at home. Days 2 to 5 also often see the peak of swelling. 

Two Weeks Out

After a week, you will receive an ultrasound to help with circulation and decrease swelling. You will need to keep wearing your binder, but for just 12 hours each day. Soon after you will be ready and able to fully enjoy your new sculpted figure!

What Happens During Brachioplasty Surgery?

If you choose a brachioplasty, you’ll come into our office’s operating room and have the procedure completed under general anesthesia.

Dr. Fasching will remove some fat and a segment of skin from the inner backside of your arm, generally in an elliptical shape. Depending on the amount of excess skin, some skin may be taken some from the very top of your arm, or armpit area as well. This procedure will take between two and three hours. 

What Does the Brachioplasty Recovery Process Look Like?

Similarly to Liposuction, afterward you will be asked to wear a compression binder to control swelling and aid healing. 

After a few days you can resume light activity. You may have some temporary changes in the amount of sensation in the arm skin, but this is normal and in only some rare cases is permanent. By following Dr. Fasching’s post-surgery instructions, risks are reduced dramatically.

Swelling and bruising after surgery are also normal and to be expected, most of this will subside in the first week or two. In a matter of three to four weeks, you will be able to resume your regular lifestyle and strenuous activity!

Infection and bleeding are very uncommon after brachioplasty, but as an extra precaution antibiotics are give during your procedure and a course will be prescribed for the recovery process.

How Can I Minimize Scarring and Achieve Optimal Results?

Your incisions will be noticeable immediately following surgery but they will gradually fade and flatten for up to a year after surgery.

Limiting strenuous arm movement during the first couple of weeks helps to achieve optimal results. However, Dr. Fasching recommends light movement such as taking walks to encourage circulation and reduce swelling. Most importantly, maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine!

If You Choose to Make the Change: Keep in Mind

Patients should be realistic with both the body and circumstances they are starting with. By working with Dr. Fasching we will find the right procedure and recovery process to fit your unique lifestyle and needs. 

As with all surgical procedures, there are some potential complications and risks. Dr. Fasching will clearly lay out any possible side effects and ensure you are prepared and informed for a seamless healing process. 

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Fasching

To learn more about removing unwanted fat deposits and excess skin around the upper arm, call Dr. Fasching, a board certified plastic surgeon, today at (763) 577-7500 or schedule a consultation.