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Bat-Wings: The Dreaded Hanging Arm Skin After WLS

Gastric-bypass surgery is only the first step many morbidly obese patients take in their total body make overs. One residue of massive weight loss is the dreaded "bat-wings". You know what I'm talking about - that upper arm skin which hangs like bat wings if you spread your arms wide ready for flight. Wave your hand and the bat-wing waves too. For some after massive weight loss there is so much skin it's difficult to find shirts with sleeves that fit, and worse, it's embarrassing to wear sleeveless shirts.

What to do?


The first line of defense is to do weight or strength training during the phase of rapid weight loss. Many patients report satisfactory skin shrinkage of the upper arms when they've incorporated light exercise during weight loss. Bicep curls and tricep pulldowns are the best exercises for firming upper arms. Arm training takes minimal equipment (2 light dumbbells 3-5 lbs each) and limited space. It should be noted, the younger the patient and the fewer times they've seen significant weight change, the better chance they have of toning and shaping their arms with exercise. Now, that doesn't let older patients off the hook for doing exercise - it just gives a bit more encouragement for younger people who undergo weight loss surgery.


The next, but not very plausible option is liposuction. Lipo is only appropriate when there is a lot of fat and the skin is tight. The lipo sucks out the fat and allows the skin to shrink. This isn't plausible for most WLS patients because they've already lost the fat leaving an empty balloon of upper arm skin.


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

Incisions and Scars in Arm Lift

Scars are the greatest drawback of this operation. They will extend from the armpit to the elbow, along the inside of the arm. This operation exchanges one cosmetic problem (loose skin) for another (scars). In general, those with very loose saggy skin are most likely to find this exchange worthwhile. Those with a small amount of looseness will probably not want the scars.

Kaye Bailey © 2005 - All Rights Reserved

Kaye Bailey is a weight loss surgery success story having maintained her health and goal weight for 5+ years. An award winning journalist, she is the author and webmaster of and

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