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Those Pesky Bat Wings!

Free stock photo, Flickr

The bane of many women who lose weight is the saggy skin left on the back of the arms, often referred to as “Bat Wings”. This saggy skin can be quite the eyesore to one who has worked hard to successfully lose weight – it can seem like a punishment for doing good for oneself. To understand what you can do about  your unsightly Bat Wings, you must first understand how they occurred in the first place. Understanding the cause of a problem is always key to a successful remedy.

Bat Wings are caused when you have very little muscle tone underneath a fatty arm. As you lose body fat, there is very little muscle tone to fill that now empty space. To make matters worse, if you lose weight too quickly because of a very low calorie diet, you will also be losing what muscle is there along with the fatty tissue. Additionally, Bat Wings are typically more than fat alone. As you get older, your skin quality changes. Skin that was once tight and elastic becomes thinner and stretched out. On the arms, this excess skin is prone to jiggling with movement, hence the name Bat Wings.

Weight loss is a major contributing factor to developing bat wings. When you gain weight, the skin stretches to accommodate more fat. Unfortunately, skin doesn’t contract as easily as it expands. Loose skin and remaining pockets of fat on the upper arm are very common after weight loss, especially for women.

What can you do about your Bat Wings?

If you are just beginning your weight loss journey, please be patient and do not try to lose more than 1 or 2 pounds per week maximum. I know we can get anxious to get the weight off, but slow and steady is the best course for you to take.  The more time you give your skin to adapt to your new body size, the more you minimize your risk of loose skin. Even if you’ve already lost a significant amount of weight, slowing down your weight loss for the rest of your weight loss journey can help you keep your skin as tight as possible.

Lean muscle takes up space under your skin, which helps reduce your risk of developing loose skin,  it also gives your arms more definition so they look more toned. The best way to tone flabby arms after weight loss starts with compound exercises: Pushups work your triceps, chest and the front of your shoulders, while inverted rows challenge your biceps, the back of your shoulders and the muscles in your back.  You can also do isolation exercises to build specific muscles; you should include bicep curls, overhead triceps extensions and lateral shoulder raises into your weight-training routine. The truth is, if you want your arms to look good, you are going to have to fill in that voided space underneath your skin with lean muscle mass.

Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself

While slowing weight loss and building muscle helps, this will not make loose skin disappear for everyone. This is especially true if your weight loss has involved losing more than 50 pounds or if you had been overweight for a long time. At that point, your skin may have stretched to the point that it loses some elasticity, so it’s not able to shrink back and accommodate your new smaller size. If you have lost a significant amount of weight, there is a chance that you may never build enough muscle to give your arms the toned look you may desire. There are medical options, such as surgery and other sculpting methods, but these options should be only between you and your physician. While loose skin or fat might affect your confidence, remember that it’s actually a sign of the enormous step you’ve taken to improve your health and live a happy, healthy lifestyle. 

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