New statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) show that arm lifts in women have skyrocketed a staggering 4378% in just over the last decade. It is a trend fuelled, 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, compared with more than 15000 in 2012.

‘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 by Jennifer Aniston.

‘I think we are always affected by the people that we see consistently, either on the big screen or on TV,’ said ASPS Public Education Committee Chair David Reath, MD, based in Knoxville, TN.

A brachioplasty requires an incision from the elbow to the armpit, generally on the back of the arm, leaving a visible and permanent scar. Dr Reath cautions patients 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.’

Dr Reath stresses the importance a healthy lifestyle to all his patients, but says 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.

‘We are genetically programmed to have different accumulations of fat in different areas, and for some women the arms can be a problem area,’ said Dr Reath. ‘They are a very noticeable area and if excessive fat and skin are an issue, they tend to look more out of proportion than the rest of the body.’