Lifestyle & Belief

Arm lifts: Is the latest American plastic surgery trend inspired by Michelle Obama's toned biceps?


Michelle Obama had fun doing push ups with Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Cape Town Stadium. The two leaders participated in youth events to raise awareness for HIV prevention on Thursday, June 23, 2011.


Charles Dharapak

Arm lifts are on the rise in the US, with more than 15,000 women getting the plastic surgery last year, and some say Michelle Obama's toned biceps are the cause.

"Women are paying more attention to their arms in general and are becoming more aware of options to treat this area," American Society of Plastic Surgeons president Gregory Evans told Agence France-Presse.

Doctors said there is no single reason that women are treating their upper arms more now with the surgery, also known as brachioplasty, but that emulating celebrities certainly is a factor.

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The ASPS cited a recent poll that suggested "women most admire the arms of first lady Michelle Obama, followed closely by Jennifer Aniston."

Brachioplasty, which removes fat and excess skin from the upper arm, has jumped 4,378 percent in the past decade.

But it's not just enviable celebrity arms that are inspiring the number of arm lift surgeries to rise. The number have also grown because more people are losing huge amounts of weight, generally through obesity surgery, which leaves them with excess skin. About 200,000 Americans a year undergo some type of weight-loss procedure such as gastric bypass.

But even doctors who perform the procedure can't deny the power of the first lady.

"Look at Michelle Obama," said Knoxville plastic surgeon David Reath, who chairs the ASPS Public Education Committee. "I can't help but think that she has an influence."