New statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeon (ASPS) show that arm lifts in women have skyrocketed a staggering 4,378 percent in just over the last decade. It is a trend fueled, in part, by sleeveless fashions for women and more focus on strong-armed celebrities. In 2000, more than 300 women got upper arm lift procedures. Last year, more than 15,000 did.
Upper arm lifts can include liposuction or a surgical procedure known as brachioplasty, in which loose skin is removed from the back of the arms.
“Women are paying more attention to their arms in general and are becoming more aware of options to treat this area,” said ASPS President Gregory Evans, MD. “For some women, the arms have always been a troublesome area and, along with proper diet and exercise, liposuction can help refine them. Others may opt for a brachioplasty when there is a fair amount of loose skin present with minimal elasticity.”
Doctors say there is no single reason behind the increase, though celebrities from the White House to the red carpet may be having an influence. A recent poll* conducted on behalf of ASPS found that women are paying closer attention to the arms of female celebrities.
According to the poll, women most admire the arms of first lady Michelle Obama, followed closely by Jennifer Aniston. Actresses Jessica Biel and Demi Moore, and daytime TV talk show host Kelly Ripa also got votes for their toned arms.
Natalie Robinson of Knoxville, who says she was inspired by the arms of the first lady. “I looked at Michelle Obama and said ‘Oh my gosh, I want her arms.’ When I first started losing weight and started to tone up, I had her image in my head.”
That was three years ago. Today, Robinson has lost more than 170 pounds and continues an amazing transformation through diet and exercise. But for all the weight she’d lost, Brachioplasty she still wasn’t entirely happy.
“I had a lot of excessive skin around my upper arms,” she said. “Every time I looked in the mirror there was a reminder of a heavier person and I just couldn’t get rid of it.”
A brachioplasty requires an incision from the elbow to the armpit, generally on the back of the arm, leaving a visible and permanent scar. For Robinson, the scar was much easier to deal with than the excessive skin, but patients need to carefully consider the pros and cons before having an upper arm lift, particularly a brachioplasty.
“It’s a trade off. We get rid of the skin, but we leave a scar,” he said. “So, as long as there’s enough improvement to be made in the shape of the arm to justify the scar, then it’s a great procedure.”
We stress the importance of proper diet and exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle to patients, but some women simply can’t achieve the look they want on their own. Many who simply want to tighten and tone their upper arms, but don’t have a lot of excess skin, opt for liposuction instead of a brachioplasty.
* This poll was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Society of Plastic Surgeon from March 28-April 1, 2013 among 1,219 women ages 18 and older