You know those areas of stubborn fat that just won’t go away, no matter what we try? You can go on a diet, you can exercise until you fall over, but those areas just don’t budge. Your “area” could be your love handles, or inner thighs, or (for many who are starting to get a little older or have lost a great deal of weight), under the arms. These pockets of fat under the arms have given rise to the description “bat-wing” arms, because the fat tends to hang down underneath the upper arms.
They can be incredibly frustrating to deal with, as they can be aesthetically displeasing and simply annoying. Thankfully, there are a number of surgical and non-surgical procedures that can eliminate your bat-wing arms for good, including non-surgical options such as ThermiTight or CoolSculpting, or surgical procedures such as liposuction or brachioplasty (the most common procedure).
A brachioplasty, or upper arm lift, is a surgical procedure that is on the rise. According to the latest ISAPS Global Statistics, there were 125,557 brachioplasty procedures performed worldwide in 2016. This is a 22% increase over 2015, and we expect this rising trend to continue into 2017 and beyond. Brachioplasty is generally accepted as the most effective method of addressing bat-wing arms, although minimally invasive treatments and liposuction can be more effective for younger patients who have less excess skin under the arms.
In a brachioplasty procedure, your plastic surgeon will reshape the upper arms by removing and tightening any excess skin underneath, and reducing any pockets of fat found in the area. Generally, the incision for the procedure is made underneath the arms, minimizing any easily visible scarring. If a more extensive procedure is necessary (where a great deal of skin is to be removed), the incision will have to continue along the upper arms – this may lead to more visible scarring, but will produce a better cosmetic result.
Liposuction is another method that can be used to minimize bat-wing arms. Here, excess fat cells are literally sucked out of your upper arms. This method is best used for younger patients who have great skin elasticity. Liposuction can leave excess skin under the arms, so, for older patients or those whose skin is not very firm, brachioplasty is usually recommended.
Non-surgical cryolipolysis® treatments, such as CoolSculpting, can be effective at reducing bat-wing arms that are caused by excess fat. With CoolSculpting, an applicator will apply cold energy to the areas of fat that you wish to have reduced. The cold energy will destroy the fat cells while leaving the surrounding tissue unharmed. As your body reabsorbs the destroyed fat cells, you will see the pockets of fat under your arms start to vanish. CoolSculpting does not, however, address excess skin issues.
A minimally invasive option to eliminate bat-wing arms is ThermiTight. In this procedure, a tiny probe is used to radiate radio frequency energy beneath the surface of the skin, causing an intentional, controlled skin “injury” – promoting the natural growth of collagen that will help tighten the skin above. For bat-wing arms, this procedure would be best for those dealing with excess skin, as it will not reduce or eliminate any fat pockets under the arms.
All of these procedures can help you address bat-wing arms. If you decide to take the surgical solution with a brachioplasty procedure, you may be able to minimize your scarring after your full recovery with a number of laser treatments. Your plastic surgeon will be able to bring all of your post-surgery options to your attention when you meet prior to your decided procedure. The benefit of having an ISAPS plastic surgeon is that you know he or she will have the knowledge and experience to answer all of your questions with experience and professionalism.