Flabby Arms that do not respond to exercise. Any suggestions?

Hello - I am 66 years old, slim, and in good shape. I still run - not as often as I used to but do some type of aerobic exercise daily and lots of walking with my dogs...I also work with weights but my arms are looking very bad. They have underarm hanging skin and uneven fat distribution in the front, causing a "ripple-type" look. Very unattractive.. Would lipo or a lift work and would it be very painful? Thanks so much...

Doctor Answers 5

Treatment of flabby arms.

It is difficult to make a surgical recommendation without the ability to examine you.  Judging by her description however it seems that you benefit with an arm lift (brachioplasty). 
Brachioplasty or arm lift surgery is one of the most frequently requested body contouring procedures performed today.  The demand for this procedure has increased more than 800% since 1997.  This is the greatest percent change of any of the commonly performed cosmetic surgical procedures  Much of the increase in popularity is due to the growing number of patients who undergo massive weight loss. Brachioplasty is normally performed as an outpatien. In performing this procedure an incision is made on the inside of the arm extending from the elbow into the armpit.  Sometimes it is necessary to extend the incision further into the armpit and sometimes past it.  Utilizing this incision excess skin is removed and the wound is closed.  It is very important to position the scar properly so that it is concealed as much as possible.  A well-placed incision should result in a scar that is only visible when the arms are raised.  It is very important for the surgeon to discuss the resultant scar thoroughly with the patient preoperatively.  Very commonly this scar takes a longer time to undergo the full healing and maturation process than scars in other parts of the body.  Maturation refers to the process whereby the scar becomes less apparent.  Brachioplasty scars commonly take up to 2 years to fully mature.  Immediately after the operation compressive Ace wraps are placed from the fingers up to the armpit.  These can normally be removed within 24-48 hours postoperatively and replaced by elastic compression sleeves commonly worn by athletes.  These can be purchased relatively inexpensively at any sporting good store.  Most patients wear these for up for up to 4 weeks postoperatively.  No vigorous activity or strenuous activity is recommended for 3 weeks postoperatively.  Complications following a well planned and well executed brachioplasty are uncommon.  They may include however wound infection or wound breakdown.  Is very important to follow the directions of your surgeon postoperatively to ensure the best results.  In the last several years improvements have been made in the performance of brachioplasty (arm lift) resulting in better results and more acceptable scars.  These improvements includes more precise incision placement, better closure techniques and use of post operative scar reducing systems.  With greater attention to these details the benefits of arm lift surgery can be achieved with more acceptable scarring than in the past.


Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Flabby arms, what to do?

Hi Katherine. You're description of the arms suggests you need skin excision. I use a posterior approach to the arm lift which has a lower pain level and a speedier recovery, in my experience. The other popualr approach to flabby arms is the incision in the front of the arms.  The posterior arm lift technique also places the incision in the back of the arm, and not in the front. This makes the incision more concealable. You can see the results of the arm technique I use in the photo link below. It is very difficult to see the incision from the front.   I also use a long-acting anesthetic called Exparel and stopped using pain pumps years ago because Exparel seems more effective and requires no tubes for it to work. It is simply injected into the area. I hope this helps! Best, Dr. Aldo

Aldo Guerra, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 192 reviews

Flabby Arms that do not respond to exercise. Any suggestions?

Thanks for the question.  Based on your description,  I think you will likely do best with an arm lift operation; the arm lifting ("brachioplasty") procedure is a great procedure designed to remove excess skin and adipose tissue of the upper arms. Best to seek consultation with board-certified plastic surgeons who can demonstrate significant experience achieving the types of outcomes you will be pleased with.  Learn about the pros/cons/possible risks/complications associated with the procedure as well. You may find the attached link, dedicated to arm lifting surgery concerns, helpful to you as you learn more. Best wishes.

Arm lift brachioplasty arm reduction arm liposuction mini arm lift crescent am lift T arm lift arm lift scar VASER arm lift

Hi Katherine,Thank you for your question regarding an arm lift or arm reduction.  The medical term is called a brachioplasty.  Due to your age and the description of your arms, I believe your would benefit from an arm lift.  I do not believe that traditional or VASER arm sculpting liposuction will give you the results you are seeking.  VASER arm liposuction is a great tool, however, the elastic fibers in your skin need to be able to bounce back and contract.  Unfortunately, at your age, I do not think the skin will contract and recoil.Instead, I would suggest an arm lift.  This surgery would remove excess arm skin and fat.  Depending on your physical examination, you may benefit most from a full arm lift. The full arm lift would tighten the front of your arms and eliminate that ripple look of the anterior arms.  The full arm lift or arm reduction ( brachioplasty) is performed under general anesthesia and takes about three hours to complete. The arm lift is an out-patient procedure.   After two weeks, most patients are able to return to work.If you have any other questions about an arm liposuction, arm lift , arm reduction, or brachioplasty,  please contact my office.Sincerely, Dr. Katzen

Flabby Arms that do not respond to exercise. Any suggestions?

Thank you for your question.  In general, an arm lift can eliminate loose excess skin of the arm.  Liposuction can be combined with an arm lift if there's excess fat as well.  Be sure to consult with an experienced board certified plastic surgeon.  Good luck!

Zachary Farris, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 16 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.