Bat wings: the dreaded hanging arm skin after WLS

Gastric bypass surgery is just the first step that many morbidly obese patients take in their total body transformation. A residue of massive weight loss is the dreaded “bat wings.” You know what I’m talking about, that upper arm skin that hangs like bat wings if you spread your arms and you’re ready to fly. Wave your hand and bat wing waves too. For some, after massive weight loss, there is so much skin that it is difficult to find shirts with sleeves that fit, and even worse, it is embarrassing to wear sleeveless shirts.

To do?


The first line of defense is to do weight or strength training during the rapid weight loss phase. Many patients report a satisfactory contraction of the skin of the upper arms when they have incorporated light exercise during weight loss. Bicep curls and tricep curls are the best exercises for firming your upper arms. Arm training requires minimal equipment (2 light dumbbells, 3-5 pounds each) and limited space. It should be noted that the younger the patient and the fewer times they have seen a significant weight change, the more likely they are to tone and shape their arms with exercise. Now, that doesn’t free older patients from exercising, it just gives younger people having weight-loss surgery a little more encouragement.


The next option, but not very plausible, is liposuction. Liposuction is only appropriate when there is a lot of fat and the skin is tight. The lipo sucks up the fat and allows the skin to shrink. This is not plausible for most WLS patients because they have already lost the fat by leaving an empty balloon on the skin of the upper arm.


The last resort is the $ 5,000 arm lift called a brachioplasty. Brachioplasty is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin from the upper arm.

Incisions and scars in the arm lift

Scars are the biggest drawback of this operation. They will extend from the armpit to the elbow, along the inside of the arm. This operation changes one cosmetic problem (sagging skin) for another (scars). In general, those with very sagging skin are more likely to find this exchange worthwhile. Those with a little slack probably won’t want the scars.

Kaye Bailey © 2005 – All rights reserved

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