Arms are tough to sculpt without hitting the gym, a.k.a. doing a lot of push-ups or weight training. Yet having defined arms makes wearing sleeveless shirts, sparkly cocktail dresses, and even wedding dresses oh so much more fun.

No matter the time of year, eventually your arms will probably have to make an appearance. And having toned, defined arms makes it easy to wear whatever you want, whenever you want.

Of course, nothing is a substitute for an exercise program that includes strength training – in fact, most doctors on RealSelf recommend you try that first – but if you dream of Michelle Obama arms, here are a few options that might help you finesse your way to going sleeveless with confidence.


‘Fire and Ice’

CoolSculpting for arms is on the rise and is so popular in my office,” says Dr. Michele Green, a New York City dermatologist. “Before CoolSculpting came out there was nothing but surgery with huge scars to help with the fat.”

CoolSculpting advantages include no downtime, it doesn’t contribute to skin laxity, and the procedure only takes about 35 minutes. One CoolSculpting treatment for the arms will average about $1,500, according to Dr. Green.

“We have had fabulous results with CoolSculpting of the arms,” Dr. Green says. “Especially when patients come in for two treatments a month apart.

“I also use Thermage to tighten the skin,” she continues. “It is amazing when done in tandem with CoolSculpting to tighten up the skin and help decrease skin laxity … The combination of ‘fire and ice’ is the key in treating the arms non-surgically.”

As always, if you want to attack both fat and skin laxity, you’ll need to consult with a board-certified doctor to get the best treatment plan for you. If you have a lot of loose skin, you might want to move on to learn more about the options below.


Related: CoolSculpting Guide: Top Questions and Answers.


Minimally invasive arm reduction

Advanced techniques and better tools are making minimally invasive procedures for arms an option if non-surgical fat reduction is not enough. Dr. Arian Mowlavi, an Orange County plastic surgeon, says that more women are looking for ways to sculpt arms without “tucking,” or surgery.

Preferred methods may vary, but the concept is the same: Fat is broken down or liquefied either through ultrasound (Vaser lipo) or lasers, then removed via cannula through a tiny incision. Dr. Mowlavi says that treatments like BodyTite (radiofrequency energy that melts fat and firms tissue) or ThermiTight (radiofrequency used to tighten skin) can also provide the desired toning effect.

Dr. Justin Yovino, a Beverly Hills plastic surgeon, is seeing great results when it comes to laser liposculpture for the arms. “It’s performed awake, it’s very safe, it’s an easy recovery, [and] hardly any time off work necessary,” he said. “It’s a removal of fat that is instantly satisfying.”

Dr. Yovino says most people come in prior to a birthdays, weddings, big events, and even Hollywood award shows, to get better defined arms.

“They start to get results in about two weeks, but it’s nice to have about four weeks of healing for big events and tropical vacations,” he says. “It takes about three months to hit a steady state, and that’s when I usually take photos.”

The average cost of liposculpture depends greatly on your individual case and geographic location, but the national average reported by people on RealSelf is around $5,300.


Related: What is the best non-surgical treatment for sagging underarms?


Arm Lift

An arm lift is a surgery that tightens sagging skin under your arms, the dreaded “bat wings.” Also called a bracioplasty, it’s often performed with liposuction to remove excess fat.

The best indication for an arm lift, and the most gratifying, are [for] those who have lost a lot of weight,” said Dr. Raj S. Ambay, a plastic surgeon in Tampa, Florida, on our site. “The skin is usually flabby and overstretched. It is simple and effective to remove the skin that has been stretched past its capacity.”

An arm lift can cost around $7,275, according to our data. As with everything, only a board-certified surgeon can determine what’s right for you.