Arm & Thigh Lift

What is an arm or thigh lift?

Sometimes it just doesn’t matter that you can bench or leg press a small couch, a little bit of stubborn excess fat or skin still hangs around the tops of your arms or legs.

Arm and thigh lifts are the surgical equivalent of a facelift for your upper arms or legs. A new smoother and flatter finish can be achieved by removing loose skin and excess fat from your arms or thighs.

Surgery to remove the fat and skin from arms and thighs can also be done at the same time as liposuction to the same area. This often gives the best results with slimmer and younger looking arms or legs.


Who is it for?

The reasons for thinking about arm or thigh lift are entirely personal. Some of them may include:

  • Removing excess skin can sometimes be left over from weight loss.
  • Increasing self-esteem by removing excess skin or fat that is uncomfortable or impacts on your life.
  • Reducing loose skin that chafes uncomfortably.

To gain the best outcome from arm or thigh lift it is best that you:

  • Are confident your weight is stable.
  • Are happy to have a trade-off for slimmer and younger looking arms or legs for a permanent scar.
  • You don’t smoke or have recently quit (smoking impacts recovery from this procedure).


What happens during an arm or thigh lift?

Before surgery

The first step is to make an appointment to see Dr McMillan.

You will meet Dr McMillan at his private rooms in Fernbrae House, Dunedin or in Invercargill to discuss your personal goals and talk through the different options. This is an important step; not only outlining your expectations but also developing your relationship with Dr McMillan as you work together to achieve your goals.

An arm or thigh lift can sometimes be done at the same time as other cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, abdominoplasty, breast augmentation or breast reduction. Discuss these options with Dr McMillan at the time of your consultation to decide if this is right for you.

Once you have decided on what needs to be done, a date will be booked for you at Mercy Hospital to have your arm or thigh lift.

During surgery

The procedure will involve having a general anaesthetic. Once you are asleep, a surgical cut will be made along the inner aspect of your arm or thigh. The length of the cut will depend on how much skin or fat is being removed.

The excess skin and fat will be then taken off. If you’re having liposuction, this will be done at the same time. Sutures will be used to sew your newly reshaped arm or thigh into position.

Once your arm or thigh lift surgery has been completed, the wounds will be dressed and some small drains will be put in place. A binder or firm bandage might be placed around your arm or leg to help provide support during initial healing.

Recovery process

The length of stay in hospital and full recovery time will depend very much on your own operation. The hospital stay is usually between 1 and 2 days.

Initially you will have some bruising, swelling and discomfort. This will begin to fade by the end of your first week after surgery.

Returning to work and driving can begin in the second week after surgery and gentle exercise can resume in the third week.

Full levels of pre-surgery activities will be between 4-6 weeks, as long as you aren’t entering a weight lifting competition!


Expected outcome

It is expected that around 6 weeks after surgery, the swelling will have gone down and you will have a good idea of what your slimmer and younger looking arms or legs will look like.

The final results will be clearer 3 months after surgery. You will have some scars from an arm or thigh lift, they will fade over the next 6-12 months.


Risks and complications

As with all surgical procedures, there are risks and potential complications with arm or thigh lift. Dr McMillan will discuss all of these with you during your consultation and answer your questions.



As arm and thigh lifts are not funded, there is a cost. The exact figure will depend on a range of factors, but generally the cost is between $16,000 and $22,000 including hospital and anaesthetic costs.


Contact us

Start the journey to the new you; get in contact to make an initial consultation with Dr McMillan to discuss your arm or thigh lift.

Dr Will McMillan Plastic Surgery in Dunedin

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