Surgeons see boom in upper arm lifts

April 29, 2013 3:11:23 PM PDT
We're talking about upper arm lifts. Tone arms have become one the most envied assets thanks to people like First Lady Michelle Obama and Kelly Ripa of course.

Local doctors have been telling us they are getting more requests - and here are new numbers to back that up.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says armlifts, also known as brachioplasties, have gone up more than 4-thousand percent.

In 2000, 336 women had them.

By 2012, that had skyrocketed to 15,136 - or about 1 operation every 10 minutes.

Many are for women who had weight loss surgery, and now, they want to get rid of extra skin.

Natalie Robinson is one of them. Over the last 36 months, Robinson has lost more than 170 pounds.

Robinson says she was left with skin that was a constant reminder of how heavy she was, not how far she'd come.

"I was proud of myself for losing that weight. And not being able to go out and still wear what I want to wear without covering up my arms, that just kind of defeats the purpose," she says.

Surgeons say their patients are less reluctant to turn to surgery these days, when exercise doesn't reduce their arms enough.

"If you really pump iron, you build your muscle mass - that's going to help. But it's unfortunately not the solution for people who have just a tremendous amount of excess skin there," says Dr. David Heath, a plastic surgeon in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The plastic surgeons group says there's no one driver for the trend, though they say bare-armed fashions, and celebrities such as First Lady Michelle Obama and actress Kelly Ripa are inspirations.

There are also new procedures which leave less scarring - sometimes the scars can be hidden in the armpit. Average cost is 8-thousand dollars for both arms.