What Causes “Bat Wings?”

what to do about bat wings

Who doesn’t want toned, well-defined upper arms? While it might seem like the secret to getting sculpted biceps and triceps is simply lifting weights and exercising, the reality is a bit more complex. Just ask anyone who’s ever spent hours at the gym doing tricep lifts only to have stubborn and persistent flabby upper arms–aka “bat wings.”

Bat wings can make it difficult to wear shirts with fitted sleeves or make you feel self-conscious about wearing sleeveless tops. They can cause irritation and even make you want to avoid looking in the mirror. The good news is that you don’t have to be stuck with flabby underarms. Here’s what you should know about what causes bat wings and how you can fix them.

Why Do Women Develop Bat Wings?

Sorry to break it to you ladies, but women are more likely than men to develop flabby upper arms. There are a few reasons for this. One has to do with hormones (of course). Women have lower levels of testosterone than men, which means they are more likely to store fat. Plus, women are more likely to store fat on their upper arms (and their hips and thighs) than men.

Bat wings aren’t always due to excess fat in the arm area, though. Some women develop them after losing a lot of weight. The drooping underarms aren’t created by fat, but by excess, sagging skin. The natural aging process can also cause the skin to lose elasticity, resulting in sagging bat wings.

Can Diet and Exercise Help?

In some cases, diet and exercise can help you to slim down your upper arms. But the right exercises might not be the ones you’d think. For example, doing countless reps of triceps extensions won’t do much to fix that stubborn fat. Those reps will make your muscles bigger, but that’s about it. Instead, it’s better to focus on exercises that work a group of muscles all at once.

It’s also important that the weights you’re lifting be heavy enough to make a difference. You won’t see much, if any results, with five-pound weights. Instead, choose a weight that’s challenging to lift for eight reps to really strengthen your arms and help get rid of the flab.

For fat burning, you’ll also need to include plenty of cardio into your regular exercise routine.

Dietary changes can also help you lose excess fat in the upper arms and around the body. Generally, a high protein diet with lots of vegetables and healthy fats and minimal amounts of refined sugars and processed foods is best for trimming down all over.

While diet and exercise do help some people slim down and say goodbye to their bat wings, these natural methods don’t always work. Sometimes, plastic surgery may be necessary to get rid of them for good.

Brachioplasty (Arm Lift) Before and After Photos in Houston, TX, Patient 27137 Brachioplasty (Arm Lift) Before and After Photos in Houston, TX, Patient 27122 Before & After Photos*

What Other Options Are Available?

Even if you’ve changed your diet and you’ve made exercise a part of your life, your upper arms can still be flabby. It might be that a surgical option is the only way to get the results you want.

When it comes to shaping the upper arms, you have two choices. If your skin is still pretty elastic and all you’re dealing with is a bit of extra, unwanted fat, liposuction might be appropriate. During liposuction, your surgeon will make a few tiny incisions in the upper arm area, then use a cannula (hollow tube) to remove unwanted fat. Recovery usually takes about a week.

If your bat wings are a result of loose skin and fat in the upper arms, a brachioplasty, aka an arm lift, might be a better option. During an arm lift, your surgeon will remove excess fat and skin from the back of the arm, stretching from the elbow to armpit. Depending on the amount of fat you have in the area, an arm lift might be performed at the same time as liposuction.

Recovery after an arm lift usually takes about a week, during which time you might have some swelling and discomfort. Many people are able to get back to work or other light activities after a week, but it’s a good idea to steer clear of the gym or other exercise programs for a few weeks longer.

A board certified plastic surgeon in Houston, Texas, Dr. Paul Vitenas performs arm lifts and other body contouring procedures at his practice. To learn more about what you can do to get rid of flabby upper arms for good, call  281-484-0088 today.

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