Madonna's Arms: Bulging Biceps, Protruding Veins Probably Unhealthy

Madonna is a woman of so many missions: Kabbalah, AIDS advocacy, adoption.

Here's a new cause she might consider: gun control.

No, the material mom and pop superstar isn't toting AK47s to Malawi, Manhattan and beyond. Madonna's weapons of choice are her buff-beyond-belief biceps. Recent images of the singer display a double-barreled mass of sinewy veins that strike fear in the hearts of paparazzi and raise questions in the heads of fans and critics:

How and why does a 50-year-old woman get her arms to look like that?

"Oftentimes when your body fat is really, really, low, as Madonna's is, you're going to see veins pop," explained Leslie Bonci, director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "Her body fat is minimal, and she does a lot of strength training workouts that are going to build her muscles to look more visible."

But scant fat plus hardcore exercise doesn't necessarily translate to a healthy body.

"When muscles look that way, it's often the result of pretty restrictive eating and dehydration," Bonci said, noting the "pop" of Madonna's veins mimics the appearance bodybuilders attempt to achieve for competitions.

"With bodybuilders, the goal is to be sinewy, to make everything stand out. How do you get to that goal? You restrict your fluid intake. But then you might collapse on stage."

Take note, Madonna: if you plan to keep high-kicking your way through your Sticky & Sweet world tour, a couple sips of Vitamin Water between sets might not be a bad idea.

Madonna's bulky biceps contrast with her less-than-taut triceps, likely a factor of age and skin's waning elasticity. But when workouts fall short, many times, plastic surgery (literally) picks up the slack.

That appeared to be the case in February, when Madonna debuted a fresh face at Vanity Fair's post-Oscar party. The newly single queen of reinvention looked radiant on the red carpet, with supple skin and nary a wrinkle.

How Did Madonna Get That Fresh Face?

According to her publicist, Liz Rosenberg, Madonna's glow was nothing new.

"Madonna has always had gorgeous skin," Rosenberg said in a statement to (she did not immediately respond to requests for comment about Madonna's arms). "It didn't just develop on Oscar night."

But Madonna's Oscar night face was far different from the one she sported two days before, when she shielded her salmon pink, shiny skin from photographers.

It also looked years younger than a photo of Madonna taken years ago. According to cosmetic surgery experts, the before/after images are proof the pop star's fabulous fa├žade is not the work of Mother Nature alone.

"It looks like she had a sapphire abrasion or a vibra facial. These are procedures in which the skin is exfoliated and a serum is applied," said Dr. Suzan Obagi, director of the University of Pittsburgh's Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center.

With sapphire abrasion, a tool coated with sapphire crystals aggressively rubs the skin, removing remnants of dead cells. The technique can also be done with diamond crystals.

"Usually patients will leave the office looking red and shiny because a layer of skin has been removed," Obagi explained. "It doesn't look like anything more aggressive -- she wouldn't have been healed and able to put on makeup by the next day."

Dr. Bruce Katz, director of Mt. Sinai School of Medicine's Juva Skin and Laser Clinic, argued that lasers had a hand in Madonna's fresh face.

"It's very likely she's had a new laser treatment called fractional resurfacing. It tightens the skin, takes away wrinkles, and tightens pores," he said. "Her skin looks great -- no sunspots, it's supple, not tight, so it doesn't have that pulled look, which is indicative of a facial treatment as opposed to surgery."

Doctors: Madonna Could Slide Down Slippery Slope

Both Katz and Obagi agreed that whatever procedure gave Madonna her glow, she can thank Botox for her bright eyes and arched eyebrows.

"She's had Botox, which gives her that nice, flared eyebrow," Katz said. "In the older photo, her eyebrows are almost horizontal. In the new one, they're arching up. That's a tell-tale sign."

"You can tell she's had Botox by the arching of the brows and the smoothness between the brows," Obagi added. "She has also had Botox of the 'bunny lines' -- the lines that are created on the side of the nose. You can see in the more recent photos that these lines are not present even in full smile."

It's a rigorous regimen -- a few hours of cardio here, one hour of lifting there, then off to the clinic to get lasered down and shot up to Stepford Wife-esque perfection. It's also a slippery slope.

"Hopefully, she'll maintain at this point and not do more," Obagi said. "That's what happened with Priscilla Presley -- she kept putting more and more volume in her face and now has some severe side effects. Madonna should stop here."