New statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) show that the contouring of the upper extremity has become very popular over the past few years. In a recent poll regarding body contouring procedures, 31% of the women said that they would like to have arms like our First Lady. The frequency of this procedure has risen by over 4,000 percent since 2000. This trend has been fueled partially by sleeveless fashions for women and more of a 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 non-invasive fat reduction and skin tightening techniques, liposuction or a surgical procedure known as brachioplasty, in which loose skin is removed from the back of the arms. Current arm contouring techniques that are employed are:
- Non-Invasive Arm Lift: the plastic surgery field now has ways to now tighten skin and remove fat without surgery. These state of the art energy-based devices are getting better by the minute. The common names for this technology are Cool-Sculpting and Viora. The best candidate for this non-invasive technique are younger, have good skin tone and have those full, “pudgy” arms which don’t seem to react to dieting.
- Liposuction: techniques including traditional hand-held, power-assisted, ultrasound-assisted, and laser-assisted devices can contour those arms with the direct removal of the fatty tissue.
- Surgical Arm Lift (Brachioplasty): are reserved for the older patient or for those patients that have undergone a large weight loss and now have significant arm skin laxity.
All of the above procedures can be performed as an outpatient basis. If a surgical arm lift is required the operative time in approximately 1 ½ hrs. And a full recovery can be expected in 2 to 3 weeks. The downside of the surgical procedure is that it requires the placement of a well-hidden surgical scar. Below are the results of a surgical arm lift in a patient that underwent a significant weight loss:
Joseph W. Rucker M.D. F.A.C.S