How to get rid of flabby arms?

I used to have triceps, now I have wings of saggy arm flab that won't go away. I've been trying to tone this area for months with no results, and I'm now considering taking more drastic action. I'd prefer a non-surgical option but am open to whatever will work. Please help!

Doctor Answers 7

Flabby arm fixes: liposuction, excision or both

Flabby arms may occurs based on a variety of reasons. Frequently, the “flab” is excess skin and maybe some fat. Some patients may exhibit excess fat.

The “fix” for the problem is related to understanding what is the problem’s cause.

For example, if the cause is excess skin, maybe as a result of weight loss or aging, then the treatment is excision. This type of procedure is know as a brachioplasty. Removing the fat when the problem is excess skin will not help the situation.

On the other hand if the problem is excess fat, the procedures aimed at removing the fat, such as liposuction, should be helpful.
The problem may occur when, after removing the excess fat, there remains an excess of skin. Under these circumstances, a combination of liposuction and skin excision may provide the best solution.

Appropriate consultation will help diagnose the problem and therefore the treatment as well.

Cherry Hill Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

How to get rid of flabby arms?

Your description of wings of saggy arm flap suggests that you will need a brachioplasty (arm lift) to satisfactorily treat your condition. Unfortunately there are no nonsurgical options to tighten skin that is as loose as you have described. Arm lift surgery popularity has increased dramatically over the years. 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. 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. This operation is normally performed as an outpatient. 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. Maturation refers to the process whereby the scar becomes less apparent. Brachioplasty scars commonly take up to 2 years to fully mature. Be sure to consult a surgeon board certified by the American Board of plastic surgery who has extensive experience in body contouring. Good luck

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 112 reviews

Flabby arms treatments

Flabby arms may be caused by excess fat, loose skin or small muscles.  Your best options for treatments include weight loss from dieting and muscle building from exercise.  Liposuction is effective for fat removal and arm lifts (with scars) are the only effective option for skin removal.

David Stoker, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 50 reviews

How to get rid of flabby arms?

If you are not finding success in contouring your arms despite weight training, physical activity, and weight stability, then you will most likely need an arm lift. The arm lift provides the most contouring of any procedure on the arms, especially when described as "wings of saggy arm flab".  Non-surgical devices can cause small amounts of arm tightening, but cannot correct the "wings of flab".  Liposuction would only make the sagging tissues thinner but the tissue would still sag.  Brachioplasty is your best option.

John Zavell, MD, FACS
Toledo Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 38 reviews

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Without pictures and a thorough physical examination, your question is difficult answer. However, I would suggest to continue exercising and dieting for another 4 to 6 months.
If you do not have your desired arm results,  I would then suggest considering arm surgery.  
In my plastic surgery practice, there are four types of arms.
Type 1 patients have a mild amount of arm fat. Typically, these patients are best treated with arm liposuction. 
Type 2 patients have a moderate amount of arm skin and fat. This excess arm skin and fat extends from the armpit approximately 4 to 6 inches down the arm. Typically, these patients are best treated with an arm lift with arm liposuction. This type of arm lift is called a modified or mini-arm lift. 
Type 3 patients have a moderate amount of arm skin and fat from the armpit to the elbow. Typically, these patients are best treated with arm liposuction and excision of arm skin and fat from the armpit to the elbow. 
Type 4 patients have moderate to severe amount of arm skin and fat from the armpit to the wrist.  Typically, these patients are best treated with arm and forearm liposuction. At the same surgery, this is followed by excision of upper arms and forearm skin and fat.  This is accomplished through an incision from the armpit to the elbow to the wrist. 

J. Timothy Katzen, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 195 reviews

Surgical Options for Flabby Arms: Full Brachioplasty, Mini Brachioplasty, Liposuction

                  Flabby upper arm tissue can represent a significant aesthetic deformity that can adversely impact self-esteem and self-image. Without being able to perform a physical examination it’s virtually impossible to make a specific treatment recommendation. When this situation arises, several treatment options exist which can improve upper arm aesthetics. These include liposuction, mini brachioplasty and full brachioplasty. The procedure chosen is dependent upon the patient’s aesthetic goals and specific anatomic findings.

                  In some cases, liposuction may be a viable alternative. When this procedure is utilized, scarring is minimal and results are usually excellent. Unfortunately, this procedure is only effective when fat is present and skin is relatively tight.

                  When excess skin is confined to the upper arm in the area of the axilla, a mini brachioplasty may be effective. This procedure utilizes an incision in the upper arm which is transversely oriented and well hidden. The procedure is helpful when patients have minimal excess upper arm skin and is associated with excellent results.

                  Unfortunately, the vast majority of patients who have had significant weight loss require more extensive procedures. In most cases, this involves a full brachioplasty with an incision that extends from elbow to axilla. This procedure addresses excess skin in the vertical and transverse dimensions. In most cases, results are excellent, but occasionally adverse scarring can be a problem.

                  When significant excess skin is present laser tightening and other non- surgical treatments aren’t effective. For this reason, patients who have significant arm skin sag should consult a board certified plastic surgeon who can formulate an appropriate treatment plan. 

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Flabby arms

There are many causes for flabby arms.  If one has flabby arms, the best indicator of the treatment would be the elasticity of the skin.  If the skin has good elasticity, then Lipo suction alone may be the answer.  If not, then an arm lift to resect the excess skin is best.  However, the best indication for an arm lift, and the most gratifying are those who have lost a lot of weight.  The skin is usually flabby and overstretched.  It is simple and effective to remove the skin that has been stretched past its capacity.  No Liposuction, or other noninvasive modalitiy will help the skin become more firm around the arms.  The length and type of the incision will vary depending upon the location and the amount of fat in the arms.  The cost will also vary by geographic locale.  Most will run anywhere from $3500-$7000.  I would advise you to visit with a board certified plastic surgeon to have treatment recommendations specific to your concerns.

Raj S. Ambay, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 34 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.