Flabby upper arms: the booby-prize after weight loss

July 1, 2013

Brachioplasty procedures are on the rise.
Brachioplasty procedures are on the rise.

The harsh reality is that after successful dieting or bariatric surgery, you may be left with unattractive excess skin. Although exercise, which is heartily recommended, can strengthen and tone muscles, improving your appearance, it has zero impact on loose skin. This is very obvious in the upper arm, especially when steamy summer days invite bare arms.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported earlier this month that now, American women are no longer tolerating loose under arm skin. Instead, they embark on the second stage of personal remodeling: brachioplasty.

There is no shortage of role models for beautiful toned arms, starting with Michelle Obama. According to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) there has been a whopping 812 percent increase in brachioplasty since 1997 even though most procedures leave an incision from the armpit to the elbow on the inner upper arm.

"The key with this (surgery), the really important message, is that the scars vary," Leo R. McCafferty, past president of ASAPS, told the Pittsburgh Post. "Some turn out great, some don't. It's unpredictable. The [ideal] patient is really someone who is trying to look good in jackets and tops."

Dr. Dennis Hurwitz, clinical professor of plastic surgery at the University Of Pittsburgh Medical School says that ideal candidates have a lot of thin, sagging skin that hangs from the upper arm.

Brachioplasty facts

• Brachioplasty is usually done outpatient with the patient under local anesthetic.

• There's not a lot of postoperative discomfort, but patients must limit upper arm activity for about two weeks.

• The national average cost for brachioplasty is $4,000, which is usually not covered by insurance.

• Your lifestyle and commitment to exercise determine the success of your surgery. The arm will look better if there are some toned muscles underneath the skin.

• If you don't have further weight gain and loss, brachioplasty is a permanent fix.

• If you have excess fat but good skin tone, liposuction may be an option, but it is not uncommon for women to undergo liposuction first and then go back for brachioplasty.

If you are unhappy with the appearance of your upper arms, it is advisable to get treatment suggestions from a board-certified plastic surgeon.


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

WE ARE AESTHETICS.

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