Firming the Upper Arms 101

Bingo wings. Batwings. They’re cute names for a not-so-cute problem. Sagging, flabby upper arms can be impossible to firm up without intervention, especially if it’s not your muscles that are loose, but your skin. So, what can you do to firm and tighten loose skin? Check out these tips to help banish the “Hello Helens” forever.


While there is no way to completely get rid of excess skin by exercise alone, exercise can tone up the underlying muscle and help create a more streamlined look. Chances are you’ll still have some excess skin, but it will be a lot easier to tell what is skin and what is muscle. Some popular and effective upper-arm toning exercises to try are:

Reverse curls: Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand. Position your hands in front of your thighs with your palms down. Curl both hands toward your shoulders without bending your wrists. Lower your hands back to the starting position.
Pushups: Position yourself face down on the floor in a plank position with your hands underneath your shoulders. With your arms tucked close to your body, bend your elbows and lower your body to the floor. Return to the starting position and repeat.
Tricep extensions: Using a 5-pound weight, stand with your knees loose and your arms straight up overhead. Slowly bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle, with the weights positioned behind your back. Slowly raise your arms back to an overhead position and repeat 15 times.

Brachioplasty, or Arm Lift

Sagging skin on the upper arms is a very common dilemma. It is most frequently seen on patients who have lost a lot of weight in a short amount of time and patients who are simply aging naturally. Unfortunately, even though excess skin is a totally normal sign of aging, or a sign that you’ve accomplished an impressive weight loss, it can still be a major nuisance. For those who are fed up with the flap, a brachioplasty, or arm lift, is an excellent solution.

Arm lifts are one of the top four procedures done following major weight loss. Arm lifts take from one to three hours to complete, depending on the amount of tissue that needs to be removed. To perform an arm lift, the surgeon makes incisions on the inside or back of the arms, usually from the underarm to above the elbow. For patients with a minimal amount of excess skin, very few incisions are required. This is called a minimal incision lift. For patients with more skin, a longer incision that runs from the elbow to the armpit and onto the side of the chest may be required.

Once the incision is made, the surgeon may remove some fat via liposuction before trimming way the excess skin. The remaining skin is then tightened and sutured back together, revealing leaner, firmer arms.

Recovery time for an arm lift is surprisingly minimal, with peak swelling occurring within two or three days of the procedure and completely dissipating within two weeks of the procedure. Patients can return to strenuous exercise within about a month and heavy lifting within about six weeks.

If you’re interested in learning more about arm lifts, or to schedule a complimentary consultation, please give Dr. Chau’s office a call at 888-966-9471.