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Skin Deep : The Esana Beauty Blog

Brachioplasty: Goodbye Bat Wings!

Unwanted handleMichelle Obama’s willingness to break with tradition and bare her toned and muscled upper arms even at formal events has put a new national focus on this often troublesome part of the  body. As we age, fat pockets often settle here, while skin loses its elasticity and tends to sag. The resulting “bat wings” can be embarrassing and may limit the clothes many women choose to wear.

While regular, targeted exercises can bring back a more toned and sleek upper arm, for many women the level of effort to achieve this result is not possible. For others, a major weight loss has left extra sagging skin that no amount of exercise will reduce. In either case, brachioplasty or arm lift surgery may be the ideal solution.

If the sagging is more limited, your plastic surgeon may choose to make a small incision at the elbow or armpit and do liposuction to remove excess fat. If there is a large amount of sagging skin, the surgeon may opt to make an incision that stretches from the elbow to the armpit. In this procedure, excess skin is removed and tightened and sometimes combined liposuction to remove fat.

In either procedure, you will receive anesthesia (local or general depending on the extent of the surgery). After the surgery, you will have drainage tubes for each arm that are removed after three to seven days. You may also be asked to wear a compression garment. Pain is very manageable, and swelling and soreness subside within a few weeks. Scarring is usually minimal and minimally visible.

The results of arm lift surgery are astounding for most patients. Many feel comfortable going sleeveless again for the first time in decades. For those of us not ready for brachioplasty, less invasive procedures like Ultherapy (which uses ultrasound) and CoolSculpting (which freezes away fat) may be available for the upper arm within two years.

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