Flabby Underarms?

What kind of treatment would you suggest to tone the flab from the arms? I've had lipo suction about 10 years ago and until very recently, my arms looked very toned. Lately, they look flabbywith increased wrinkles and cellulites.

Doctor Answers 12

The Treatment Of Excess Upper Arm Skin

It's not unusual for women to develop redundant saggy upper arm tissue with normal aging. When this situation arises, women frequently seek treatment of this condition. A variety of treatment options are available, but with the exception of brachioplasty, most of these procedures have limited value.

Your history suggests that you have a relatively severe deformity, but without pictures or a physical examination, it's hard to make a specific treatment recommendation. With this said, it's safe to say that the vast majority of patients with bat wings will require brachioplasty surgery.

This procedure utilizes an incision that extends from the armpit to the elbow. In some cases, it may utilize a transverse incision in the axilla as well. It removes excess skin in multiple dimensions and dramatically improves arm contour. It's associated with excellent clinical results and high levels of patient satisfaction.

This procedure involves trade-offs between excess upper arm skin and additional scarring. For this reason, it's appropriate to consult a board certified plastic surgeon with experience in this area. This surgeon should be able to formulate a treatment plan that addresses your anatomic findings and achieves your aesthetic goals.

Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Arm lift for "flabby" arms

An upper arm lift of brachioplasty will help tighten the skin.  But the scar may be objectionable to you.  Consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon who does this procedure is mandatory!

Steven Yarinsky, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Brachioplasty (arm lift) Best for Flabby Underarms


An Arm Lift (brachioplasty) is a plastic surgical procedure which removes excess skin and fat from the upper arm. The upper arm can become droopy or flabby from age, for genetic reasons, or after weight loss. The intended result of a brachioplasty is to create a slimmer, more youthful arm contour.

Am I a candidate for an arm lift?

Arm lifts are performed on a wide variety of patients. This includes patients of healthy weight who just need a bit of tightening to achieve their desired arm shape. Most arm lift patients have undergone massive weight loss, leaving the skin on their arms loose for a “bat wing” effect. It is recommended that massive weight loss patients reach a stable weight before this procedure is done. Older women sometimes have droopy upper arms, which are easily corrected with an arm lift. Many arm lift candidates want to wear short-sleeve shirts without feeling self-conscious.

How is an arm lift done?

The techniques involved in an arm lift depend on the patient. A skilled surgeon must tailor the operation to your needs, which is why it is so important to choose a plastic surgeon who is board certified.

Patients with excess fat in the upper arm, but no excess skin, can benefit from liposuction alone.

Some patients will need excess skin removed. The placement and length of the incisions must be tailored to the individual to enhance the arm’s natural contour. Patients with a small amount of excess skin higher up the arm, an incision in the arm pit alone can attain the desired contour. Patients with a large amount of excess skin (massive weight loss patients usually fall in this category) may require an incision running from the elbow to the arm pit. Incisions are made in subtle locations to hide scars.

An arm lift is typically done under general anesthesia on an outpatient basis.

Post-operative healing

Right after surgery, the patient’s arms are wrapped in a compression sleeve to minimize swelling. The swelling will reduce over the next 10–14 days as part of the healing process. Bruising and swelling will continue to resolve over the 3–4 weeks following surgery.

Post-operative pain is easily controlled through oral medication for the first few days. Acute pain is generally gone after the first 7–10 days.

Arm lift patients should avoid lifting their arms overhead for a while after the procedure.

The scars on the underside of the arms will fade during the next 6 to 24 months, depending on the patient’s skin. The scar healing process can be hastened with scar treatments available at the Pacific Center for Plastic Surgery.

Following your upper arm lift, the skin contours may be slightly uneven and areas of slight depression or wrinkling can occur.  As healing progresses, most of these problems (if present) usually improve dramatically.

Minimal asymmetry of upper arm lift scars occur frequently as healing is not always even from side to side.  The mild asymmetry is usually not cosmetically significant.  If the asymmetry is significant, revisional surgery of the scars may be considered.

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 157 reviews

I would recommend brachioplasty...

A brachioplasty or arm lift, removes skin and fat from the upper arm. It tightens the upper arm, making it smaller, and allows it to match the rest of the arm. The price you pay is an incision from the arm pit down the back and underneath part of the arm, all the way or part way to the elbow. Unfortunately diet and exercise cannot tighten this part of the arm.

Judith M. Gurley, MD, FACS
Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

Arm Lifting for "Flabby" Arms?

Arm lifting surgery can be an excellent operation for the right patient.  The ideal patient has loose skin/adipose tissue of the upper arms ( sometimes patients called the area “bat wings”),  especially common after significant weight loss.  This operation is best done when patients have achieved a long-term stable weight.

Understandably, one of the main concerns/downsides of the arm lift surgery is a resulting scar. Careful planning of the operation is critical  in executing the operation and determining the final position of the resulting scar.  In my opinion, a scar that ends up along the very lower border of the upper arm is the best tolerated scar,  since it is hard to see from the front or back when a patient's arms are by his/her side.

You may find it attached link helpful as you do your research.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,499 reviews

Brachioplasty for Loose Arm Skin

  • Your best option is to consider undergoing an arm lift (brachioplasty)
  • This operation will remove the excess skin and improve the contour and appearance of your arms.
  • The trade off for the better contour is a scar on the inner arm, but most patients are not bothered by the appearance of this scar once it has matured completely.
  • Definitely meet with a board certified plastic surgeon to find out more, and to see some before and after photos so you know what kind of results you might expect.
  • Best of luck to you!

Joshua Cooper, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Brachioplasty for flabby underarms...

Fluctuations in weight and growing older can certainly cause loose sagging skin.  The skin loses elastin over time and just does not tighten as well as it used to.  If exercising to tone the muscles on your arms is not enough, then considering an arm lift could be your best option.  Brachioplasty can reduce the excess skin and fat between your underarms and elbows, which can result in a more toned and smoother appearance.  To get more information about this procedure, you should consider contacting a board certified plastic surgeon.  



Shain A. Cuber, MD
Edison Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

Flabby Underarms

Despite your verbal description, a photo is really needed to make a suggestion for you. Options range from trying to build up muscle mass (difficult to get enough to make a difference in women), non-surgical tightening (various devices are around) and surgical skin reduction.

Please consider posting photos. All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Toned Arms

Toned arms are a result of muscular definition, tight fibrous connections/fascia, minimal excess fat and good skin tone.  One or several of these anatomical structures has changed resulting in flabby arms.  Options for treatment include weight training to build muscle bulk, non surgical skin tightening like SkinTyte, laser liposuction, laser liposuction with skin tyte, brachioplasty and brachioplasty with adjunctive liposuction.  Which options are realistic depends on your current situation. An examination or photos are needed to give you a more definitive opinion. Consult with a surgeon with significant experience in surgical and nonsurgical arm contouring. Best wishes.

Robert F. Centeno, MD, FACS
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Flabby Arm Skin

Upper body strength training is you first option to build up the muscles. The next option would be to try a non-invasive skin tightening treatment such as Skin Tyte.  If that is unsuccessful an armlift would be your best bet. It comes at the price of a scar but  it is the most effective way to get rid of excess skin. ALl the best.

George Bitar, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.