Congratulations! You’ve lost weight. You probably feel better, and it’s likely you look better, too.
People who lose a significant amount of fat via healthy means report that they can exercise more, walk farther, and sleep better.
Losing troublesome excess weight can also mean a boost of self-confidence. You may go for that job you’ve been nervous about approaching. Or you may start dating again.
And, of course, there are those cute little sleeveless tops or figure-hugging T-shirts.
But wait. What’s that under the shirt straps?
When the Weight Is Gone … But Skin Is Left
If you have loose arm skin after losing weight, you’re not alone. “Bat wings” or “bingo wings” mean skin that hangs and wobbles below the muscular area when your arms are raised or during activities.
While it is a matter of preference, lifestyle, and goals, “bat wings” bother some people, while others see them as a badge of courage honoring their weight loss journey.
It’s important to know that both points of view are fine. However, if you’re reading this article, you are probably considering an arm lift (brachioplasty) to fix the sagging skin under your arms.
Here’s how to know whether you’re ready to schedule your brachioplasty, plus the different arm lift techniques available to you.
Who Is a Candidate for Brachioplasty?
First, are you a candidate for an arm lift? The ideal patient:
- Is in good health
- Is finished or nearly finished with her weight loss journey
- Feels stable at her current weight (does not anticipate regaining weight)
- Has comparatively little fat in the hanging pockets
- Is not looking for a quick fat-loss fix
- Is dissatisfied with the look and/or the feel of her excess arm skin
- Has realistic expectations about the outcome of brachioplasty
Excess Skin Vs. Fat
It can be difficult to distinguish between skin and fat when the area is hanging down. You’ve heard that “fat jiggles,” but so can excess arm skin.
Often, the two are combined, even after weight loss. And spot fat can be very hard to reduce after you’re at your goal weight.
There can be other options for you, such as liposuction. However, severe sagging and excess skin, along with some fat, can mean you’re a candidate for an arm lift.
When Is the Right Time to Have Brachioplasty?
Plastic surgeons have different ideas about how long you should be at or near your ideal weight before brachioplasty.
However, nearly all cosmetic surgeons will ask you to have been at your weight (without regain) for a minimum of six months before having skin removal surgery.
From the other side of things, if you’ve been considering an arm lift for years — or even a decade or more — it’s not too late. Talk to your surgeon about your options.
Different Ways Brachioplasty Is Performed
All brachioplasty procedures involve a long, vertical incision along the inside of the arm, which is an area of the body that does not have natural folds. That means your upper arm lift will leave some degree of scarring.
However, one method may be preferable to you and your surgeon. Have a sit-down talk with your plastic surgeon to discuss which type of brachioplasty will get you closest to your body goals.
Here are three methods you and your surgeon may choose from for your arm lift:
Inner Arm Incision
This surgical method is popular because the scar will be hidden whenever your arm is down. It is considered a relatively inconspicuous form of brachioplasty.
The patient is placed under general anesthesia. The skin is incised (cut into) between the armpit and elbow, and excess skin and fat are removed.
Back of Arm Incision
For this method, the incision is made along the back of the arm. Patients choose a back of the arm incision because from the front, while you are talking with and working with people, the scar in the rear is not visible.
The patient is placed under general anesthesia. The skin is incised (cut into) along the back of the arm and elbow, and excess skin and fat are removed.
Minimal Incision (Tightening)
This method is highly sought after by patients who want as small and inconspicuous a scar as possible. However, it will benefit a smaller segment of patients – those whose excess arm skin or fat are concentrated near the armpit.
The patient is placed under general anesthesia. An incision is made in the armpit. The skin is pulled down, tightened, and sutured (stitched) closed.
Whichever method you choose, make sure you are clear with your plastic surgeon about your goals and expectations. Let them know about your lifestyle and which brachioplasty method you prefer. Together, you and our surgeon can find the perfect method to get rid of that underarm skin — once and for all.