The U.S. plastic surgery industry, which performed $11 billion worth of cosmetic procedures last year, issued a report Monday that highlights a growing trend: operations to get arms like first lady Michelle Obama's.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, reporting cosmetic and reconstructive surgery statistics for 2012, said that for the seventh year in a row, breast augmentation was the most popular form of cosmetic surgery, with 286,000 operations performed.
But the report highlighted a procedure that is less familiar: the upper arm-lift. In 2012, 15,457 patients, 98 percent of them women, spent a total of $61 million to have liposuction on their arms, or what's known as a brachioplasty. The surgery involves making an incision from the armpit to the elbow, usually along the back of the arm, to remove excess skin. The number of procedures was up significantly since 2000, when only about 300 women opted for it, the group reported.
In a statement, the plastic surgeons group said doctors didn't point to a single reason for the increase but took note of poll data indicating that women "are paying closer attention to the arms of female celebrities" including Jennifer Aniston, Demi Moore and Kelly Ripa. The most-admired arms of all? Those of Obama.
Plastic surgeons emphasized that diet and exercise should be a part of a woman's plan to tone her triceps, but that for many, getting the look they want proves impossible by those methods alone.
Among other 2012 statistics:
•Americans underwent 1.6 million cosmetic surgeries, including face-lifts, liposuction and rhinoplasty; 13 million minimally invasive procedures (think Botox injections); and 5.6 million reconstructive procedures (including tumor removal and scar revision).
Botox treatments reached an all-time high, 6.1 million injections.
People ages 40 to 54 accounted for the largest portion of the cosmetic procedures: 6.8 million, or nearly 50 million.
Ninety-one percent of cosmetic procedures were performed on women.
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