Health News Review

Fact:  the US spends a far greater percentage of the Gross Domestic Product on health care than any other country on earth.

Suggestion:  trends like the following, and news stories about these trends, may be a big reason why.

Caution: You need to sit through a 15-second commercial before seeing the news video, which, itself may strike you as a commercial.

WCCO-TV in Minneapolis was just one of the news organizations reporting on this yesterday. Excerpts:

Many women say they can’t stand the extra flab under their arms. Now, we’re finding out that a cosmetic procedure to get rid of the problem is skyrocketing in popularity.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says upper arm lifts in women have shot up more than 4,000 percent over the last decade.

“In many people there is excess skin and fat,” said Dr. Al Aly, of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “Basically, an upper arm lift is done to eliminate the excess and return the arm to that normal contour.”

It takes about 10 to 14 days after surgery for a patient to get back to normal daily activities.

Doctors recommend patients wait up to two months before working out their arms.

The woman profiled in the story is reported to have “paid $6,000 for the procedure and says it was worth every penny.”  Other people with some extra “flab” may want to think long and hard about spending thousands of dollars on a procedure for a cosmetic change that may knock them out of commission for months to weeks.  Most of us use our arms in our work and other daily activities.  The story didn’t discuss potential short-term or lasting harms of the surgery. The story didn’t mention whether insurance is likely to cover this expense.  Would you want to be in an insurance pool with people being reimbursed for this procedure? That would mean that your premiums will rise as a result.

If the plastic surgeons’ estimates are correct and 15,000 of these procedures were done last year in the US and if the TV estimate of $6,000 is in the ballpark, Americans spent upwards of $100 million dollars on this procedure last year.  That’s why many observers are up in arms over the medical arms race.

On Google we found a lot of gab about the flab story. So many stories that you’d easily get the impression that this was the most important health news of the day.

The Daily Mail said women want arms like Michelle Obama or Jennifer Aniston – neither one of whom (as far as we know) had surgery to attain that look.

 

Addendum: Note how this story, in contrast, led with the potential harms, “Surge in arm lift surgery prompts warnings over scarring.”

 

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Comments

Mendy Hecht posted on May 3, 2013 at 8:33 am

One would think that diet and exercise would prevent this problem in the first place. Isn’t the First Lady known to work out for 90 minutes a day and eat healthily? Seems that the solution is staring us in the face, but, like too much of society nowadays, people want instant results without the temporary pain of having to work for it.

Beverly Richards-Smith posted on May 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm

I doubt we’ll have to worry about health insurance covering this purely cosmetic surgery, considering how many refuse to cover breast reconstruction following mastectomy for breast cancer.