Plastic Surgery Second Opinions

Can Money Buy Perfect Arms?

arm liposuction

In my dreams I would have graceful, supple, arms that don’t make me pause before slipping into sleeveless sheath dresses like the ones Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Selina Meyer wears in Veep.

Veep dresses

Cheer up Selena, you can wear this dress

I wouldn’t stop at sheath dresses.  I might cut the sleeves off everything I own and wear gloves that run up past my elbow.  My arms would be stacked with spangley bracelets that make noise when I move and I might even get a barbed wire tattoo around my bicep.  Because my upper arms would be that hot

I wouldn’t hesitate to let my naked arms slam the table to make a point.  Or shy away from gestures that might cause a ripple of fat waves, like a fist pump, or the Miss America wave.

But then I wake up, and deal with the reality that are my sausage arms, attached to small, sloping shoulders, which gives me the frame of a Russian stacking doll.


In real life, my arms don’t see the light of day if unless I’m under 122.3 lbs.   Ever.  Even at the doctor’s office.  An ounce over and I’m on full long sleeve lock down.  If they made a long-sleeved bathing suit, I would be the first in line.

Sure, I work out (kinda, sorta).  I plank, dip, and downward dog, but thanks to middle age and genetics, my fat cells seem to enjoy clustering between my arm pit and elbow.

So it didn’t surprise me to hear recent ASPS statistics that arm lifts have increased 4,378% since 2000.  

Mz. Obama and celebs like Jennifer Aniston are fodder for the trend, but I suspect the increase has more to do with what ASPS earlier cited as a rise in bariatric surgery connected to the growing obesity epidemic in the US.   We can also blame the garment industry.  Clothing manufacturers prefer sleeveless dresses in economic downturns because it’s more cost effective; less fabric and less labor.

This is one reason women like me can’t escape the curse of the sleeveless sheath.

Still, an arm lift, or brachioplasty is not a simple procedure and leaves a scar that runs down the length of your upper arm, from your pit to your elbow.


Yet arm lift patients are some of the happiest around, with an 83% approval rating on Real Self.  This might have something to do with the fact that many of the patients have triumphantly lost massive amounts of weight, but are frustrated by the drooping, excess skin (batwings to the uninitiated), so trade off of the scar is a walk on the park.

But for someone like me with vanity sausage arms, the option doesn’t sound so appealing.  Isn’t there anything else?

Dr. Ariel Ostad says “Liposuction on the arm can be a nice solution, but it has to be on the right patient.  Someone with too much laxity or excess skin would probably benefit from brachioplasty as well”.

Dr. Brandith Irwin adds “The problem with liposuction is that they have a hard time getting it even, so you need someone who’s extraordinarily good at it”.

And lets not forget this is still surgery, which requires anesthesia and depending on the surgeon, wearing an upper body compression garment for one to two weeks after and possibly keeping the arms raised above the heart for a few days.

But in this era of non-invasive treatments, is this really all there is?

Online there are a few murmurs about the potential for Cool Sculpting, Thermage and possibly Ultherapy for the upper arms, but the results seem inconclusive at best due to the lack of specific “tips” for that part of the body and limited data.

“Ask me in 6 months,” offers Dr. Irwin “because I think Exilis (a non invasive radio frequency device) could be a good system for that area.  The engineering on that system allows you turn into the dermis or the fat, and in that area I think you need to target both”.

“But safety first.  In the arm area, you’re dealing with the brachial plexus which is that huge nerve center in the armpit area and those nerves can be damaged, so the systems need to be safe enough to ensure you’re not damaging the nerves.”

Hmm.  I think this is the universe telling me to stop wishing, put the bagel down and plank.

Meanwhile, here’s my sausage arm survival guide to warm weather.

  • Avoid shawls unless you’re cold; they either scream fortune teller, 1997 (if pashmina) or Russian stacking doll (see above).
  • Liberal use of spray tan and sunscreen.  The only thing worse than chubby arms, are chubby arms with a farmers tan. Might as well have that barbed wire tattoo.
  • Blouses and blazers are my heros.  T-shirts, on the other hand, are a one way ticket to dumpy.
  • When caught on camera, I pose like this with arm jutted out, with hand on hip.   Another trick is to insert yourself in the middle of other people and put your arms around them.  People will think you’re just really caring, not deliberating trying to cover sausage arms.

When all else fails, there’s Photo Shop, the poor man’s plastic surgeon and sometimes a girl’s best friend.


  • New Techniques, Technologies Credited With Soaring Arm Lift Rates (ASPS)
  • Arm Lift Worth It Ratings (Real Self)
  • Arm Lift (ASAPS)
  • Plastic Surgeons Play Key Role In Body Contouring After Weight Loss Surgery (ASPS)
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  • Reply
    May 7, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Haha, I wear a small size, spend my days lifting heavy furniture, and Still feel self-conscious about my arms. I don’t think I’d ever go the surgical route but it does get frustrating: wtf more can I be doing?!

    • Reply
      May 7, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      Hey I’ve seen your arms and I’ll switch with you any day.

  • Reply
    Laila Duran
    May 8, 2013 at 11:35 PM

    You never fail to read my mind. I know we’re heading towards Summer so it’s not completely coincidntal, but I’ve been obsessing about my arms lately. Not only the batwings, but the crepey skin that’s just starting to make an unwelcome appearance at the crease of my armpit. Still, I’m not quite ready to give up my tank tops, so thanks for the ‘arm jutting out’ trick! At least photos will look okay.

    • Reply
      May 11, 2013 at 10:14 AM

      Ugh, I know. My mother in law and I were just talkin about that. Hopefully some of these new non-invasive treatments will help, but I have to say, given all the nervey stuff going on with the arm pit, I don’t know if I’ll be first to dip my toe in.

      The arm jut never fails!


  • Reply
    May 9, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    Oh come on! either you are a photo pro or your arms are not that bad….but here is the thing. No matter how many planks, lifts, weight, downdogs and whatever else your workout arsenal contains, at some point in time, the little jiggle makes its appearance. Even on very toned arms. I am sure even Madonna has the jiggle. Now somebody needs to give me a remedy for that!

    • Reply
      May 11, 2013 at 10:16 AM

      I know, the jiggle will be coming for everyone of us at some point. This happened to be an unusually good arm shot of me which is why I included it. I tool a picture of my bat wings – arms outstretched like Christ the Redeemer in Rio, and my batwings were so bad I threw up in my mouth a little. I wasn’t brave enough to share the horror…

  • Reply
    Arm Candy - Project Eve
    May 27, 2013 at 8:58 AM

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