By Belinda Goldsmith
LONDON (Reuters) - More women are going under the knife to achieve the kind of toned upper arms earned by the stars' vigorous gym workouts but plastic surgeons warn the operation comes at a cost - scarring.
Statistics released by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) this week showed that arm lift surgery on women has soared more than 4,400 percent in the past decade, fuelled by sleeveless fashions and a focus on well-shaped celebrities.
An online poll of 1,219 women commissioned by the ASPS in March/April found women are paying closer attention to well-toned arms, most admiring those of Michelle Obama and Hollywood actresses Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Biel and Demi Moore.
"Women are paying more attention to their arms in general and are becoming more aware of options to treat this area," ASPS President Gregory Evans said in a statement.
He said 98 percent of 15,000 arm lift patients in the United States last year were women and more than 75 percent of these were aged over 40.
The United States performs the most aesthetic/cosmetic surgical procedures followed by Brazil, according to the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and tends to pioneer new trends in the industry.
Evans said there were two ways to remove what have come to be known as so-called "bingo wings" - originating from the idea that women playing the game wave their winning cards, causing the flabby skin hanging from the upper arms to flap.
These were liposuction or a surgical procedure known as brachioplasty in which an incision is made from the elbow to the armpit and loose skin is removed from the back of the arms.
Plastic surgeon Keith Allison, speaking on behalf of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, said UK surgeons had also seen a rise in demand for arm surgery, although the numbers remain small.
Allison said the scarring that came with a brachioplasty was a deterrent for many people.
"You will get better contouring but you do get a long scar with it and many people don't want that. Scars can take 18 months to two years to fade," Allison told Reuters.
Allison said liposuction could work for younger patients with good skin elasticity while severely overweight people who slimmed down might opt for a brachioplasty.
"You can get a quick fix for bingo wings but it does some at a cost," he said.
(Editing by Alison Williams)