Published: January 27, 2021
Last updated: February 18, 2022
Content Reviewed by AEDIT Medical Advisory Board
We've all seen pictures of elite body builders and probably thought wow. The dedication to sculpt and tone their bodies is admirable. Some gym time with free weights or a full-body home workout with plenty of burpees and plank positions can help with body toning. Arm exercises with or without dumbbells like the shoulder press, tricep kickback, bicep curl, and push-up from the correct starting position with shoulder blades pulled together will definitely help sculpt those arms too, but sometimes there’s just a stubborn layer of fat or droopy skin in the way.
What is responsible for the contour of the arm?
Let's review some basic anatomy. The upper arm is defined from the shoulder to the elbow. The forearm is defined from the elbow to the wrist. The humerus is the long bone from the shoulder to the elbow, and the radius and ulna are the two bones of the forearm.
Major arm muscles include the biceps and triceps in the upper arm, and the brachioradialis extending into the forearm. Most of the forearm muscles control wrist and hand movements. Muscle mass and tone will of course significantly contribute to arm appearance. This is especially true in individuals at a healthy body weight and body fat level.
There are two main layers of fat or subcutaneous tissue in the arm. The superficial areolar fat and the deep lamellar fat. The superficial fat does not change much, however, the deeper fat layers are highly influenced by diet and weight changes. The front of the upper arm contains mostly areolar fat and is, therefore, not very susceptible to weight changes. The posterior upper arm, however, is, and will show significant differences based on body fat levels. (1)
What are the main cosmetic concerns related to arm shape and size?
When it comes to the appearance of the arm from a cosmetic perspective it comes down to the soft tissues like skin and fat.
- Excess Arm Skin: This commonly occurs when an individual experiences a significant and dramatic weight loss-congrats! The skin, which stretched to accommodate the high body fat levels, usually does not return to its previous tone.
- Excess Arm Fat: As with extra fat anywhere, this is correlated to high body weight and body fat levels. The excess fat weight causes skin to appear flabby and sagging.
Who may wish to seek treatment for their arm shape or size?
As we age skin loses elasticity and fat deposits change. This can lead to a sagging, loose arm appearance regardless of your fitness or weight. Excess body weight and body fat will of course contribute to arm appearance as well.
An individual who has experienced a significant weight change may benefit from a cosmetic intervention. Men and women of any age may wish to refine and define their arm appearance to better match their desired aesthetic.
How can someone refine their arm shape or size?
To define, refine, and contour the arm shape and size a liposuction and/or arm lift (a.k.a. brachioplasty) procedure can alter the soft tissue (skin and fat). You can also check out our complete guide to arm slimming solutions.
- For Excess Skin: An arm lift can define and contour the arm appearance through targeted skin alterations.
- For Excess Arm Fat: A classic liposuction procedure such as liposculpture, tumescent liposuction, laser assisted liposuction, radiofrequency assisted liposuction, SmartLipo, or SlimLipo can remove excess fat from the arms and enhance definition. Additionally, a RFAL procedure like BodyTite™, Emsculpt, or truSculpt® can help.
Arm workouts are awesome and important. If you want to lift heavy things or you just want that sculpted look, a good set of dumbbells or understanding of calisthenics will serve you well. If, however, some stubborn fat or sagging skin is hiding your efforts, an arm refining and contouring procedure can help you get those biceps and triceps on full display.
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- Hoyos, A, and M Perez Arm Dynamic Definition by Liposculpture and Fat Grafting Oxford Academic; 2012-11-01
- Mayo Clinic Staff Cellulite mayoclinic.org
- American Academy of Dermatology Association Cellulite Treatments: What Really Works? aad.org
- Paul Cohen, Bruce M Spiegelman Cell Biology of Fat Storage PubMed.gov; 2016-08-15
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