15,000 women opted for plastic surgery to get 'Michelle Obama arms'

Rick Moran
When Jackie Kennedy was in the White House, women in America emulated almost everything about her. They cut their hair like her. They bought hats she was wearing. Some college age girls even affected her accent.

That was then, this is now. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that in addition to the usual fare of nose jobs, breast augmentation, and face lifts, another procedure - liposuction of the arms - was chosen by more than 15,000 women.

Their reason? So they could look like Michelle Obama.

LA TImes:

Once again, for the seventh year in a row, breast augmentation was the most popular form of cosmetic surgery, with 286,000 operations performed.  Botox treatments reached an all-time high of 6.1 million injections. People between the ages of 40 and 54 accounted for the largest portion of the cosmetic procedures: 6.8 million, or 48%. Ninety-one percent of cosmetic procedures were in women. 

But the society chose to highlight one procedure that is less familiar: the upper arm-lift.  In 2012, 15,457 patients, 98% of them women, spent a total of $61 million to have liposuction on their arms, or what's known as a brachioplasty (a surgery that 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 4,378% since 2000, when only about 300 women opted for it, the group reported.

In a statement, the ASPS said that 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 First Lady Michelle 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. 

"We are genetically programmed to have different accumulations of fat in different areas, and for some women the arms can be a problem area," said Dr. David Reath, chair of the ASPS Public Education Committee and a surgeon in Knoxville, Tenn.

Women should obviously be eating more arugula and alfalfa shoots and less red meat and potatoes. Still, it's nice to know that Mrs. Obama is doing better than her husband at stimulating economic activity, although I wonder how enriching plastic surgeons fits into the "fairness" narrative?


When Jackie Kennedy was in the White House, women in America emulated almost everything about her. They cut their hair like her. They bought hats she was wearing. Some college age girls even affected her accent.

That was then, this is now. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that in addition to the usual fare of nose jobs, breast augmentation, and face lifts, another procedure - liposuction of the arms - was chosen by more than 15,000 women.

Their reason? So they could look like Michelle Obama.

LA TImes:

Once again, for the seventh year in a row, breast augmentation was the most popular form of cosmetic surgery, with 286,000 operations performed.  Botox treatments reached an all-time high of 6.1 million injections. People between the ages of 40 and 54 accounted for the largest portion of the cosmetic procedures: 6.8 million, or 48%. Ninety-one percent of cosmetic procedures were in women. 

But the society chose to highlight one procedure that is less familiar: the upper arm-lift.  In 2012, 15,457 patients, 98% of them women, spent a total of $61 million to have liposuction on their arms, or what's known as a brachioplasty (a surgery that 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 4,378% since 2000, when only about 300 women opted for it, the group reported.

In a statement, the ASPS said that 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 First Lady Michelle 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. 

"We are genetically programmed to have different accumulations of fat in different areas, and for some women the arms can be a problem area," said Dr. David Reath, chair of the ASPS Public Education Committee and a surgeon in Knoxville, Tenn.

Women should obviously be eating more arugula and alfalfa shoots and less red meat and potatoes. Still, it's nice to know that Mrs. Obama is doing better than her husband at stimulating economic activity, although I wonder how enriching plastic surgeons fits into the "fairness" narrative?