Be ready for bare-shoulder holiday fashions

PHILADELPHIA, PA.; November 23, 2011

With First Lady Michelle Obama leading the way, sleeveless dresses are now a year-round style.

But not for Kristy McNeil of Lawrenceville, New Jersey.

"When I was a teenager, I had sleeves added onto my prom dress. I would never like to show my arms," she says.

When Kristy shed 20 pounds last year, her arms never changed.

So she wanted an arm lift to remove excess fat and skin.

But traditionally, that surgery would have left her with a scar from armpit to elbow.

"I was already self-conscious about my arms, so I didn't want a scar on the back of my arm," notes Kristy.

Then she found out that Dr. Kevin Cross, a plastic surgeon at Deme, a Center City aesthetics practice, was among a small number of doctors nationwide using a newer method, by doing the lift through a less-obvious incision.

Dr. Cross explains,"We orient the incision so that it's hidden underneath the armpit, in the crevices of the armpit, so that unless someone raises their arm completely over their head, and is wearing a tank top or bathing suit, this scar is essentially hidden from view."

The small incision also steers clear of lymph nodes, to prevent damaging them and risking lymphedema - a painful swelling of the arm.

The procedure isn't right for women who have a lot of fatty tissue, or a lot of loose skin.

But it was right for Kristy. Her arms slimmed down significantly. And she's thrilled.

Beaming, she says, "I love that. I touch them all the time, and I can feel the definition now."

Dr. Cross says patients are urged not to do any heavy lifting or exercising for 3 weeks, and it takes about 8 weeks for all of the swelling to go down.

However, most patients can go back to normal activities, including showering and washing the hair, the day after the procedure.

Of course with any procedure there is the risk for complications. So you should talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits.

Kristy says her job doesn't allow much down time, so the quick time to get back to her regular schedule was important.

Her wardrobe now includes lots of arm-baring styles.

She got an unexpected benefit from her arm lift.

"I don't have a lot of arm pit hair anymore, and I don't sweat a lot anymore," she notes.

And Dr. Cross says that happens with a lot of his patients.

For more information: Deme.

For general information on arm lifts: American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

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