Getting rid of flabby arms

“When I spread my arms, it looks like I’m ready to take flight!” Woman describing her “bat wings”

Most women have at least one part of their body they’d like to hide. If flabby arms are keeping you in long sleeves, even in hot and humid climates like Thailand’s, it’s a little harder to deal with. Fortunately there are different ways to keep you looking great and feeling more confident about your arms, even when wearing tank tops or spaghetti straps.

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WHAT CAUSES BAT WINGS?

Before you take action, it’s important to arm yourself with the facts. Bat wings, or “bingo wings” are one of the most common complaints among women, especially among the 40-plus set. The two main causes are simply an overabundance of fat cells _ either from being overweight or heredity _ or too much loose skin.

WHAT’S BEST WAY TO COMBAT BAT WINGS?

The first plan of attack is to try and tone up upper arms by establishing a good exercise plan and a healthy eating programme. An exercise regimen should include cardiovascular exercise, targeted weight training and resistance exercises. Avoid over-exercising or concentrating on one muscle group only, for example only training the biceps, as this can make upper arms too bulky. Your local gym should be able to advise on which arm exercises best target the bits that jiggle and wiggle.

EXERCISE HASN’T HELPED MUCH. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE I CAN DO?

If regular exercise and a sensible diet have failed to firm up or reduce the offending area, there are a number of cosmetic procedures available which can improve the appearance of bat wings. Skin laxity is best targeted with RF (radio frequency) treatments like thermage to help firm up the skin tissue, while if stubborn fat deposits are to blame for the appearance of bat wings, laser-assisted liposuction procedures work best.

WHICH COSMETIC PROCEDURE IS MOST EFFECTIVE AND HAS THE LEAST AMOUNT OF SIDE EFFECTS?

Thermage not only tightens the skin but is also capable of slightly reducing the number of fat cells. It’s a tried and tested technique which involves minimal risk as long as it’s performed by an experienced professional. And provided the individual doesn’t gain weight and stays slim, it’s a one-time treatment which doesn’t need to be repeated again for another couple of years.

Arguably the surgical suctioning of fat _ tumescent liposuction _ is the most effective treatment around for reducing fat cells. But this may be too harsh if only a small area of fat is to be removed. In this case, newer and minimally invasive laser procedures like SmartLipo or Zeltiq provide better alternatives. Both are non-invasive techniques, sparing patients surgical pain or negative side effects commonly associated with liposuction such as scarring. The recovery time is short since no physical wounds are inflicted incurred and patients are able to resume their normal activities immediately.

Lastly, Carboxy and MesoTherapy injections may also help. These techniques involve injecting FDA-approved substances into the subcutaneous fat tissue to target and breakdown fat cells.

Each procedure has its own merits and in some cases a combination of procedures may be indicated. During a consultation the patient can be advised on which procedure would be most suitable. It’s also important to have realistic expectations in terms of what cosmetic dermatology can and cannot achieve. It goes without saying that no treatment or machine can undo the damaging effect of an unhealthy lifestyle and after undergoing cosmetic treatment and that it’s vital to maintain a reasonable and consistent body weight in order to maintain lasting results.

I RECENTLY LOST A LOT OF WEIGHT BUT AM NOW STUCK WITH EXCESS SKIN. IS THERE ANY WAY TO REMEDY THIS SITUATION?

Some cosmetic surgery clinics offer a “bat wing brachioplasty” or upper arm lift. During the procedure an incision is made from the armpit down to the elbow through which excess fat and subcutaneous tissue is excised. The arm is closed in an inconspicuously as possible fashion, along the inner aspect of the arm. As with any type of surgery, brachioplasty leaves a scar and should be reserved for severe cases such formerly obese patients wanting to get rid of excess skin.

An attractive alternative due to its lack of scars is the thread lift.

Originally developed as an alternative to a surgical facelift, the thread lift has proven beneficial for other areas of the body such as the brow, neck and upper arms. The procedure involves the use dissolvable threads to pull skin tighter without cutting.

The threads are made from a special bio-compatible material and are re-absorbed over time, while some of the lifting effect remains due to the formation of scar and collagen tissue. Up to date, there are limited complications from thread lifting.