Barbie arm treatment
13 November 2023
Readers born in the 80’s and 90’s will have a sense of nostalgia with the upcoming release of the movie, Barbie. Slated for release in 2023, the movie based on the famous doll line by Mattel stars Hollywood stalwarts Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling as the lead characters. Anyone who’s played with Barbie dolls will remember the dolls’ impractical body proportions, including their unrealistically long and slender limbs.
One body contouring trend that’s taken off in the Philippines is called the Barbie arm botox. Similar to using Botox to contour the calves and shoulders for a slimmer, and more feminine look, the Barbie arm botox trend employs botulinum to shape the arms.
The Barbie arm treatment has not taken off in Singapore yet, but here’s a breakdown of the Barbie arm treatment that’s popular in the Philippines.
The Barbie arm treatment is a non-surgical reduction of the bulk of the muscles. The full scale of the Barbie arm treatment involves a combination of liposuction in the arms and botulinum toxin injection into the arm muscles. The intended outcome of the Barbie arm treatment is slimmer looking arms.
To understand how the Barbie arm botox treatment works, a background understanding of Botulinum toxin is first required.
Botulinum toxin, also commonly referred to as Botox, is a neurotoxin that relaxes muscles. When injected into the arm muscles, Botox acts at the neuromuscular junction to reduce muscle contraction. With relaxation and reduced muscle contraction; the arm muscles lose the size of their bulk for a slimmer and thinner arm silhouette.
This is similar to Botox for shoulder and calf contouring; as well as treating enlarged jaw muscles. Muscles that have been treated with Botox become relaxed and lose their hyperactivity, thereby slimming down the bulk of muscle size.
How is Barbie arm botox performed? Using Botox to contour the shoulders is not a new technique. It has already been used in Korea to also treat bulky arm muscles for a slimmer and more feminine arm shape1.
For the Barbie arm botox treatment, Botulinum toxin is injected into two muscles of the arm and shoulders- the deltoid and triceps brachii muscles. These two muscles form the lateral profile of the arms when standing at attention. According to Seo, who performed MRI imaging on 10 patients who underwent arm contouring with Botox, the size of muscle bulk decreased by 17-34% 3 months after Botulinum toxin injection1.
Using botox to contour the arm muscles is a relatively new, and off-label use of Botulinum toxin. Currently, published studies on Botox injections in the upper limb are based on the treatment of spasticity; as opposed to cosmetic treatment of hypertrophic or asymmetrical arm muscles2-6.
However, based on these studies that used larger doses of Botox for treatment of upper limb spasticity, the side effects are mild2-6. The most common side effect was mild discomfort related to injections with no serious adverse events2-6.
The risks of using Botox in large doses has been explored in detail in this blogpost Is Botox Deadly? The functions of the deltoid and tricep muscles are to elevate the shoulder joint and extend the forearm at the elbow respectively. One can expect some weakness of these actions with Botulinum toxin introduced into these muscles.
Body contouring with Botulinum toxin is not new; but the use of Botox for non-surgical arm contouring has found new popularity in Asia. If you enjoyed this review, you might enjoy these Botox related blogposts:
1. Body Contouring with Botulinum Toxin. Seo. In book: Botulinum Toxin for Asians. 2017 Dec. p.141-157.
2. The effects of botulinum toxin treatment on associated reactions of the upper limb on hemiplegic gait–a pilot study. Bakheit and Sawyer. Disabil Rehabil. 2002 Jul 10;24(10):519-22.
3. Botulinum toxin type A for the treatment of arm and hand spasticity in stroke patients. Sampaio et al. Clin Rehabil. 1997 Feb;11(1):3-7.
4. Botulinum toxin injection into the forearm muscles for wrist and fingers spastic overactivity in adults with chronic stroke: a randomized controlled trial comparing three injection techniques. Picelli et al. Clin Rehabil. 2014 Mar;28(3):232-42.
5. Effectiveness of Botulinum Toxin Treatment for Upper Limb Spasticity Poststroke Over Different ICF Domains: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Andringa et al. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2019 Sep;100(9):1703-1725.
6. Does low-dose botulinum toxin help the recovery of arm function when given early after stroke? A phase II randomized controlled pilot study to estimate effect size. Cousins et al.Clin Rehabil. 2010 Jun;24(6):501-13.