Upper Arm Re-Shaping

The Treatment of Excess Tissue of the Arms

Excess tissue under the arms has been termed as flab, bingo wings and in other derogatory ways. Improvement of the cosmetic appearance of the underside of the arms is quite a common request. The cause is a combination of a lack of muscle tone or mass, and loss of elasticity of some of the deep tissue surrounding the muscle as well as the skin. This imbalance is part of the ageing process but can be caused by weight gain and increased fatty deposit in the arms. Weight loss can also lead to loose underarm skin especially if the skin has lost its elasticity and cannot shrink down to the change in volume of the arm. This occurs more often in older patients or after significant weight loss.

Treatment is aimed at addressing the imbalance of the components such as excess fat, loose muscle tone and stretched skin and deep tissues. For mild flabbiness, muscle toning can work with appropriate exercises. With a general fitness programme, reduction of the body mass index and improving muscle bulk and tone, with reduction of fat, the flabbiness can decrease. This is more likely if the skin has retained some elasticity and tightens as fat volume decreases and muscle tone improves.

However, for patients who find difficulty in diminishing the fatty component, then conventional liposuction is an option. This will be only effective if the skin has retained some elasticity. The liposuction involves the insertion of metallic tubes via small stab incisions at strategic areas to allow careful removal of fat under the skin via suction. This can be carried out under local anaesthetic with or without sedation as a day case. In selected patients good results can be achieved. Click here to read more about liposuction.

There are also other methods, which are thought to help the skin to shrink as well as reduce the fat volume. Ultrasonic fat removal (Vaser), laser lipolysis and cool lipo are modalities that are thought to alter the collagen properties of the skin, as well as reduce the fat, to allow skin tightening. It is not certain whether these methods work consistently and it is difficult to determine if some of the results are due to retained intrinsic skin elasticity pre-operatively.

There is no doubt that for some patients none of these procedures will work because the skin looseness is too excessive. These patients are surgical candidates. The aim is to decrease the surface area of the loose skin by carefully excising the excess. This will usually result in a long scar at the back of the arm. This should be invisible in some positions of the arm but will inevitably reveal itself as it is raised. In selected cases the results are good because the excessive skin can cause discomfort as well as cosmetic difficulties.

Rarely, postoperative numbness can be a problem as well as asymmetry but the main issue will always be the presence of a visible scar after surgery. Patients will need to fully understand this before submitting to any procedures. As with liposuction, surgery can be carried out under local anaesthetic with or without sedation as a day case.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) View all

Does the bilateral arm reshaping procedure include the underarm pit area as well as the “bingo wings”?

Yes, the upper arm reshaping procedure will deal with the entire arm area and all excess skin can be adjusted. You asked about exercises to deal with loose skin and I would not advise surgery if I did not think it would help. Exercise cannot address the issue of loose skin.

When can I start exercising again after upper arm reshaping surgery?

Q: I am an art teacher so not an office job but not hugely physical either - so how long will I need off work and how soon after surgery can I start exercising again?

A: I would take a week off from your art work if is just teaching (assuming that you are not painting etc.) For the first week you can do everyday things, but plenty of rest. If your job is very physical work you should take three weeks off.

Can you explain the recovery period for upper arm reshaping?

You will have a compression bandage on for about a week, at which time you'll come back in and have the wound inspected. There should be no sutures to remove.

You will be able to use your hands normally straight away after surgery but during this first week no heavy lifting. By ten days the wound is healed but not strong. By two weeks it will have 20% strength. By three months 70%, so plan work and lifting accordingly.

I want to get rid of my bingo wings. How much does upper arm reshaping cost?

For people who have diminished the fatty component of flabby upper arms and are left with excess loose skin, we can decrease the surface area of the loose skin through upper arm reshaping. This costs approximately £4,200 to have both arms done, and is performed at The Westbourne Centre under local anaesthetic with sedation.

Can I see before and after pictures of patients considering the same procedure?

Most certainly! During consultation I am happy to share before and after photos with you of people who have had the same procedure(s) you are considering. By doing this during the consultation, and in person, I have the opportunity to relate the example specifically to your situation, highlighting outcomes and helping with expectations.

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