Losing Bat-Wings Through Plastic Surgery

If you worry that you’re turning into your grandmother, with rolls of excess, flabby skin on the underside of your arms, then take heart. You don’t have to sport a pair of bat-wings forever. Of course, you could always try diet and special exercise, designed to strengthen your upper arms and make them appear sleek again. But if all else fails, why not try brachioplasty?

The vast majority of arm lift patients are those who have lost an enormous amount of weight, either on their own or as the result of bariatric, or weight loss surgery.

The vast majority of arm lift patients are those who have lost an enormous amount of weight, either on their own or as the result of bariatric, or weight loss surgery.

It might be painful and it might leave scars, but brachioplasty is the only sure-fire way to ditch the bat-wings – forever. While this invasive surgery is best for people who have lost an enormous amount of weight and sport visible rolls of flab on their arms, it also works for anyone who wants to give themselves a sleek, new contoured look – with maximum pain and expense.

The Operation

With age we tend to lose some of the natural elasticity of our skin, as well as natural muscle tone and supporting tissue. People who experience this to a greater degree may seek arm reduction surgery, or brachioplasty, but the vast majority of patients are those who have lost an enormous amount of weight, either on their own or as the result of bariatric, or weight loss surgery.

Brachioplasty is not for people with a low pain threshold, as this form of cosmetic surgery can be very painful. It’s actually very simple: in an operation taking about two hours, the surgeon makes a T-shaped incision from your armpit to the elbow, slices off the saggy skin, then sews you back up again. In rare cases where there is a huge amount of tissue to be excised, the surgeon might use liposuction or combined lipo and ultrasound to get rid of it all.

The procedure is carried out under general anesthesia, and the recovery period can be difficult. To minimize bruising and help tissues shrink, patients are required to wear compression bandages on their arms for at least seven weeks. A hospital stay of several nights may be required, and you will have to follow a strict regime to minimise the risk of infection.

Be aware that not everyone is a suitable candidate for this operation. If you are prone to rashes as a result of the excess skin rubbing on your body you might be a good candidate. But if the rashes are partly a result of excess sweating due to certain conditions you may be more likely to develop post-operative infections, and your surgeon may not allow the operation to take place. It is also not recommended following mastectomy, and you must be in good enough health to withstand the anesthesia.


The biggest drawback of brachioplasty is scarring, as patients are left with little excess skin and one big scar, extending from the armpit clear through to the elbow. It ain’t pretty, but if you have a lot of saggy flesh to get rid of it’s probably a worthwhile trade-off – and you can always invest in a fake tan company!

A good surgeon will, of course, make all effort to minimize scarring, including making incisions in the natural creases of the arms where they will be less visible. But, unfortunately, scarring is definitely one aspect of brachioplasty that won’t go away, which is why it’s often seen as a last-ditch procedure where other methods have failed…

Mini Arm Tuck

Patients with less skin to lose may opt for this surgery instead, where the scar is limited to a half-crescent neatly tucked away in the armpit. You may want to discuss with your surgeon whether this form of arm reduction surgery is better for you. It’s not offered everywhere, so shop around and find a certified plastic surgeon who is familiar with the procedure and has done it many times before.

Conventional Lipo for Lovely Arms

Liposuction can only work when there is lots of fat in the arms but little excess skin to remove. The technique involves sucking out the fat and allowing what little excess skin is left to tighten over it naturally. Obviously, this will not be feasible when there is loads of extra flesh following massive weight loss. But it can work if you just want to lose a bit of fat to make your arms look better.

CAST Liposuction

Relatively new and rare, this type of lipo is carried out circumferentially, and also close to the surface of the skin, to promote the skin shrinking without having to cut if off. You will need to wear a special compression sleeve for a while to encourage shrinkage even more – and will need to look long and hard for a surgeon who will carry out this unusual procedure! Probably only recommended for those whose bat-wings are not huge…

The Titan Approach

If your sagging bat-wings are the result of age instead of weight loss, this less invasive, non-surgical method might be for you. Tissue beneath the skin’s surface is tightened thanks to a infrared light source, which firms up the collagen and – in theory, at least – helps make your bat-wings begin to recede.

The Titan method is advertised as being able to smooth out wrinkles and “titan” the area without the negative side effects that full-on surgery would entail. Results are seen within two months, as the skin’s collagen seeks to repair itself. At least two treatments are necessary: expect to pay anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 and up.

Arm reduction surgery, or an arm lift, can be a difficult decision if based purely on aesthetic reasons alone, as you are trading excess skin for visible scars. But there are other benefits to brachioplasty besides just visual ones: the ability to exercise better, to wear clothes more comfortably and enjoy a bigger choice of clothing, and an end to unsightly and unpleasant skin rashes caused by friction due to excess skin.

People should not take this form of body contouring lightly – and you wouldn’t as it can cost up to $5,000. But if you have a qualified and certified plastic surgeon who recommends “correcting the bat-wing deformity” as your best bet, then go for it. What have you got to lose – except your bat-wings!

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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