Weight loss patients that lose weight quickly are often left with hanging skin in the most unfortunate of places. An example is the upper arm. Genetics and age can also produce this hanging, loose skin, which is often crudely referred to as bingo wings.
You can imagine the hand raised, yelling, “Bingo!” and having the upper arm waving in the wind like a flag, announcing your mighty win. This is how bingo wings got its name, but there is hope.
An arm lift/arm reduction is the best course of action when you have this excess skin along your upper arm and you just can’t take it anymore. The treatment is one of Doctor Moeinolmolki’s post-bariatric body contouring techniques that he offers at Healthy Life Bariatrics in Los Angeles, California.
Keep reading to learn more about this pesky problem. You’ll learn why the excess skin forms, your options for recontouring your upper arms, and other information regarding insurance, financing, and several other questions you might have.
Bingo Wings – You Don’t Have to Live with Them
The term “bingo wings” was introduced to popular culture in the 1990s. The problem is primarily a female one and is associated with age, a lack of muscle mass, and extreme weight loss. The latter is why the saggy, hanging flesh of the upper arms is often a concern of patients who have succeeded with weight loss surgery.
With surgical procedures like gastric sleeve surgery, gastric bypass surgery, and the non-surgical gastric balloon, the excess weight possessed by the patient tends to come off quickly. While the fat does melt away, the skin of the upper arms doesn’t always shrink back to accommodate the patient’s new, slimmer features.
Why Doesn’t the Skin of the Upper Arms Bounce Back After Weight Loss?
Losing weight with or without weight loss surgery is an awesome accomplishment. Not only is the weight loss psychologically satisfying but a drop of even 5% of your excess weight is beneficial to your health.
Being overweight and obese can cause and exacerbate over sixty obesity-comorbidities which include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and several types of cancers. Weight loss surgery is a treatment for excess weight and obesity-comorbidities but bariatric surgery can’t do anything about excess skin.
The skin is the body’s largest organ and serves several important jobs. The skin protects the body from the environment and forms Vitamin D when exposed to the sun. The innermost layer of skin consists of proteins like collagen and elastin.
Collagen, which makes up 80% of the skin’s structure, adds firmness and strength. Elastin gives skin elasticity and helps your skin stay taught against your body.
When you gain extreme amounts of weight, and even during pregnancy, the skin expands to make room for increased growth.
The expansion that occurs with pregnancy occurs gradually over the span of several months. For that reason, the skin usually retracts within several months after delivery.
Contrast that expansion with the weight gain that occurs with obesity. It can take years to gain extreme amounts of weight. During that time, collagen and elastin protein fibers can become damaged. When the weight eventually comes off, the skin may lose its ability to contract.
This effect can cause the excess skin to hang from the body. The more extreme the weight loss, the more pronounced the effect of loose skin. Studies also show that people who undergo weight loss surgery make less new collagen. And the collagen they do make may not be as strong as the collagen in younger, healthier skin.
Other factors that can influence hanging skin on the upper arms include:
The longer someone has been overweight or obese, the looser the skin will be after extreme weight loss because of the loss of collagen and elastin.
Extreme Weight Loss
Losing 100 pounds or more can result in more loose skin than someone who loses a moderate amount of weight.
The older a person gets the less collagen they tend to form and the looser their skin becomes following weight loss.
Experiencing chronic sun exposure can reduce the skin’s collagen and elastin production. This can contribute to loose skin.
Your genes can affect how your skin responds to weight gain and weight loss.
Smoking tobacco can reduce your body’s ability to produce collagen. It also damages existing collagen. Both of these factors result in loose, saggy, skin.
What Problems can Loosen Upper Arm Skin Lead To?
Loose skin on the upper arms can cause psychological discomfort and poor self-esteem but those aren’t the only challenges you face when you form bingo wings.
Excess skin along the upper arms can be so uncomfortable that it interferes with normal activity.
Decreased Physical Activity
Not only are your normal activities hindered but you may not feel like exercising when your upper arms continually wave even when your arms otherwise come to a state of rest. Incidentally, one of the ways to keep weight off is to get regular exercise, which means the upper arm skin will eventually have to go if you hope to remain healthy.
Read our article: Benefits of Working Out After Weight Loss Surgery
Loose skin can rub against the remaining skin on your upper arms and sides. This can result in skin ulcers, skin pain, and potential infections.
Poor Body Image
Loose skin from extreme weight loss can have negative effects on body image and mood.
Post-Bariatric Body Contouring on the Upper Arms Can Reduce Loose Skin
An arm lift/arm reduction is a safe, common procedure that aims to reduce the excess skin on the upper arms. The overall objective of the operation is to make your arms more proportional to the rest of your body.
An arm lift or arm reduction is also medically referred to as Brachioplasty. During the procedure, excess skin and fat are removed from the area that spans between the armpit and elbow. The remaining skin is then placed back over the newly positioned contours. By the end of the surgery, your arms will undertake a more toned look.
The procedure can be performed in a hospital or an outpatient surgical center, such as the one operated by Doctor Moeinolmolki in Southern California (Healthy Life Bariatrics). The procedure can either be performed with general anesthesia which renders you unconscious or sedation and local sedation which only numbs part of your body. You and the surgeon will decide on which anesthetic type to be used based on your health status and preference.
So that nothing interferes with the anesthesia or sedation, you will be asked to refrain from taking certain medications like aspirin, herbal supplements, or inflammatory drugs. You will also be recommended to have someone on hand to help you get home after surgery. A friend or relative should drive you home and stay with you as you begin your recovery.
Once you are fully sedated, surgery will begin.
The Initial Incision
The body contouring surgeon starts the procedure by making incisions on the underside of the arms. The incision lengths and patterns they take depend on the amount of skin to be removed.
With these incisions made, the cosmetic surgeon reshapes and tightens the underlying tissue before the remaining skin is secured with stitches.
If excess fat is present, the surgeon may choose this time to use traditional liposuction to suction out the excess fat, which further contours the upper arms.
The remaining skin is draped over the newly formed contours before excess skin is removed. Stitches or surgical tape are then used to close the incisions, completing the surgery.
After Arm Lift Surgery
Following the procedure, you will be wheeled into recovery. Your upper arms will be covered in bandages to minimize swelling. You may have small tubes remaining in your arms to drain excess blood and fluid. These tubes will be removed during a follow-up appointment.
Your first appointment may arise a day or two after your arm lift. You will meet with your cosmetic surgeon at this time, whereby the bandages and drainage tubes are removed. Some body contouring specialists may recommend that you wear a compression sleeve for a few weeks to further minimize swelling.
What to Expect During the First Few Days
Your cosmetic surgeon will recommend that you avoid lifting your arms above shoulder level for at least a few weeks. You should also avoid physical and athletic activities that heavily involve the use of your arms for up to eight weeks following an arm lift/arm reduction procedure. Your surgeon may prescribe topical or oral antibiotics to prevent wound infections and pain medication to minimize discomfort.
The arm lift does involve the use of stitches. Some stitches dissolve on their own. Others will need to be removed in the weeks following the procedure in your surgeon’s office.
What Results Can You Expect from an Arm Lift?
Once the loose skin along the upper arms is removed, your arms should take on a more toned appearance. The results of an arm lift or arm reduction are long-lasting. You can maintain your results by maintaining a stable, healthy weight, and by eating healthily. Keep in mind that your skin will naturally lose some tone and firmness as you age and some subsequent sagging can occur.
Are There Any Risks to an Arm Lift Procedure?
As with any surgery, an arm lift or arm reduction can pose risks to your health. Scarring may be possible. The scars remaining after an arm lift are permanent but are usually placed in an area where they are not readily noticeable. The scars may be raised and red in color. Your surgeon may recommend injections of a corticosteroid medication or other treatments which can reduce their appearance.
Your arm lift procedure could result in asymmetry due to the natural healing process. Perfect symmetry is not possible, but your body contouring surgeon will strive to make your arms as symmetrical as possible.
Skin sensation may be altered following the arm reduction. There may be some temporary numbness because the procedure can affect the superficial sensory nerves in the arm.
Finally, stitches used during the procedure can work their way to the surface of the skin, which can cause inflammation. In rare cases, problems with stitches can result in the need for additional surgery.
Other risks include bleeding, infection, and adverse reactions to anesthesia.
You should notify your surgeon immediately if you encounter any of these side effects or if you experience shortness of breath, chest pains, redness of the skin, fever, or an irregular heartbeat.
You can minimize your chances of experiencing risks to your health by choosing your body contouring surgeon carefully.
How to Find an Arm Lift/Arm Reduction Surgeon in Los Angeles?
If you have recently lost weight and have bingo wings, Doctor Moeinolmolki of Healthy Life Bariatrics can help. Doctor Moeinolmolki is the only Southern California surgeon who is dual board certified in minimally invasive procedures such as gastric sleeve surgery and gastric bypass surgery as well as post-surgical body contouring procedures such as the arm lift. That means you can have both types of procedures performed by Doctor Moeinolmolki under the same roof.
The first step to undergoing a body contouring procedure like the arm lift is to schedule a consultation with Doctor Moeinolmolki at our accredited surgical center. During this discreet meeting, the doctor will perform a short medical examination before asking about your medical history and state of health. The purpose of the exam and inquiry is to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the arm lift procedure.
Read our article: Benefits of Post-Bariatric Body Contouring – Health and Beauty Improvement
The arm lift costs $4,861 on average, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This is a base cost and does not include associated fees such as anesthesia, surgical center fees, and others. Insurance is unlikely to cover the procedure because it is cosmetic in nature, but Doctor Moeinolmolki offers medical financing in his office.
Call Now to Schedule Your Consultation to Remove Bingo Wings
You now know all about bingo wings, why they form, and how the arm lift/arm reduction can give you an improved body image and higher self-esteem. Call to schedule your consultation with Doctor Moeinolmolki at Healthy Life Bariatrics by dialing (310)694-4486.