- The Washington Times - Monday, September 15, 2008

Forget mommy makeovers, lip plumps, breast enhancement, thigh reductions and tummy tucks.

The “bra-line back lift” is now upon the nation, joining the list of assorted cosmetic surgeries available to Americans seeking a little improvement.

A new procedure that reduces rolls of fat on the back was revealed Friday by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. It could be a dream come true for women of a certain age who pine to wear stretchy T-shirts, sheer blouses and bikini tops without telltale ridges.

The surgical scar is strategically placed to be hidden below a bra.

“For many patients - even the very fit ones, such as an aerobics instructor - the upper to mid-line back where the rolls and bulges form was very frustrating,” said Dr. Joseph Hunstad, who has perfected the procedure and followed a small group of test cases.

“This redundancy of skin occurs generally from aging and cannot be exercised away. For those who desire to wear form-fitting outfits, this procedure eliminates the problem,” he said.

Surgeons pay keen attention to the line of undergarments.

Dr. Hunstad’s study reviewed the cases of seven women who had the bra-line back lift between 2001 and 2007, with an average follow-up of 22 months. Pre-operative marks were placed to outline the patient’s brassiere, as well as delineate the troublesome tissue to be removed.

It is not a minimal incision.

In the case studies, excess skin - sometimes up to 8 or 10 inches wide - was removed. The procedure took about an hour from start to finish.

So far, Dr. Hunstad and his surgical team have completed the bra-line back lift on 20 patients.

The study found minimal complications. Patients were allowed to increase their activity levels after two weeks.

Feedback from all seven patients was “uniformly positive,” the doctor said.

The study ultimately deemed the procedure a “a safe and powerful method to contour the middle and upper back - literally removing all of the back rolls and folds.”

The scar is also “easily concealed,” even by a two-piece bathing suit, the study said.

Cosmetic surgery’s popularity and acceptance continues to rise, meanwhile.

The number of procedures intended to improve face or body has increased 457 percent in the past decade, according to figures released in May by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, a New York-based group.

Almost 12 million assorted procedures were performed last year - up 8 percent since 2006. Vanity trumped concerns about the economy, perhaps: Americans also spent more than $13 billion on cosmetic improvements, which now include such categories as “vaginal rejuvenation” and male breast reduction.

The group also said women account for 91 percent of the patients, though masculine interest in cosmetic enhancement is increasing.

“Our statistics confirm that aesthetic plastic surgery is not defined by race or gender,” said Dr. Foad Nahai, a group spokesman. “The number of surgical and nonsurgical procedures performed on men increased 17 percent since last year, and 22 percent of the aesthetic procedures were performed on traditional racial and ethnic minorities.”