How to Tighten Flabby Arms After Major Weight Loss

Fit man doing push ups outdoors
Tone and build up your arms with compound exercises. (Image: m-imagephotography/iStock/Getty Images)

Major weight loss can literally save your life: By reducing your body fat down to a healthy level, you not only alleviate excess strain on your joints, but lower your risk of several chronic diseases, ranging from heart disease to certain types of cancer. When you lose a large amount of weight, though, you might develop loose skin once you hit your goal weight, including on your arms. A few lifestyle tweaks might help minimize the look of loose skin on your arms, but more severe loose skin might require surgery to remove completely.

Continue Weight Loss Slowly

The rate at which you lose weight can affect how your skin looks when you reach your goal weight. In general, the more slowly you lose weight, the more time you give your skin to adapt to your new body size, which minimizes 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 might help keep your skin as tight as possible. If you've been losing weight rapidly, scale back your weight loss to 1 to 2 pounds each week; if you've been losing steadily at 2 pounds weekly, consider dialing back to 1 pound per week.

Bulk Up Arms With Exercise

Working your arms with strength training might help give them a tighter appearance after moderate but significant weight loss of up to 50 pounds, explains Columbia University. Muscle will take up space under the skin, which helps reduce loose skin and also gives your arms more definition so they look more toned.

Tone and build up your arms 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 shoulders in your back. Do isolation exercises to build specific muscles; introduce bicep curls, overhead tricep extensions and lateral shoulder raises into your weight-training routine. Strength-train your arms along with the rest of your body to build healthy muscle.

Set Realistic Expectations

While slowing weight loss and building muscle might help, they won't make loose skin disappear, especially if your major weight loss involves shedding more than 50 pounds, or if you had been overweight for a long time before losing tweight. 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.

While loose skin 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. Keep in mind that everyone has body insecurities, and work toward accepting and loving your body for all that it does for you every day -- not stressing out over a bit of excess skin.

Consider Surgical Solutions to Tighten Arm Skin

Loose skin on your arms may cause discomfort from chafing or become infected because of your difficulty in keeping your skin clean and dry. If that happens, or if lifestyle modifications aren't working, and you're adamant about getting rid of it, talk to your physician about the benefits of surgery. The medical procedure to reduce arm skin is called a brachioplasty, or armlift. During the procedure, a surgeon makes an incision in your arm or armpit, stretches the skin so that it appears tight, removes the excess skin and then stitches the remaining skin back together. However, the surgery can come at considerable cost, and, depending on whether it is deemed medically necessary, may not be covered by insurance.

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