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What Are Bat Wings and What Can Be Done About Them?

No, I am not referring to the tiny creatures that are often the subject of nightmares, but rather the term used when describing excess skin or flesh that many men and women have hanging off their upper arms.

Excess fat stored in the arms and back can lead to a plump saggy appearance, unaffectionately referred to as “Bat Wings”. More common in overweight older adults, bat wings often appear due to diminished muscle tone and excess fat stores.

While diet and exercise can help reduce the appearance of bat wings this often requires a total body work out to achieve satisfying results as there is no way to eliminate upper arm fat alone. Some individuals may feel stuck with their bat wings despite all efforts with weight loss due to the loss of skin elasticity.

Genetically Predisposed to Storing Fat

Women are more likely to develop bat wings or flabby arms when compared to men. This isn’t to say that women are less fit by comparison but rather this can be attributed to differences in hormone levels as well as the normal fat distribution between sexes.

The predominant sex hormone in men is testosterone while in women it is estrogen. Both sexes have each type of hormone in their bodies but in varying amounts dictating various actions throughout the body. Testosterone-deficient men have been linked to increased fat gain1, and since women have low levels of this hormone naturally, it would explain the tendency to gain weight more easily.  Fat distribution in women has also leaned towards accumulation in the hips and thighs, as well as the upper arms.

On average, women carry up to 6 to 11 percent more body fat compared to men2 and can be linked to the actions of estrogen on the female body. Physiologically, this is completely normal as females are genetically programmed to store more fat to promote fertility and gestation3. Unfortunately, this genetic predisposition is a real struggle for women to achieve and maintain their desired body image.

A Stressful Toll

Having bat wings can be extremely stressful and embarrassing, especially for women. Much of women’s fashion is tailored to accentuate the body which can leave many feeling uncomfortable when exposing their upper arms. Choosing to avoid wearing clothing that exposes their arms can be very limiting and wreaks havoc on self-confidence. But there is hope for those suffering from excess upper arm fat that can make you start looking forward to wearing that summer dress or even simply your favorite t-shirt.

Getting Rid of Bat Wings

An arm lift (brachioplasty) is a cosmetic surgical procedure that can smooth out and tighten the skin of the upper arms, redefining its shape to give you a satisfying appearance. The procedure is accomplished by removing excess skin and fat, then tightening the tissue and securing them with stitches with most people going home the same day.

Much like with any surgical procedure there is a recovery period to allow your body to heal. Post-surgery, your arms will be properly dressed to help mitigate the accompanying bruising and swelling, taking a couple of weeks to resolve. However, for the most part, results are immediate and if you maintain your weight thereafter having bat wings will be something of the past.

Doing your homework and researching your options to combat having bat wings is a great first step to achieving the body you’ve always desired. The next step is to find experienced and knowledgeable plastic surgeons to help you meet your goals. Reaching out to Dr. Maida Parkins will grant you an abundant level of care and compassion when traversing your aesthetic journey as well as offer a female perspective to help make her patients feel most comfortable.

To learn more about your plastic surgery options, contact Dr. Parkins and her team at (262) 269-1050 to arrange a personalized consultation in the Lake County, WI area.