Dr. Nancy Van Laeken M.D., F.R.C.S.C.




An arm lift or brachioplasty, is a surgical procedure to reshape the underside of the upper arm. It can dramatically reduce excess sagging skin often associated with significant weight loss. It can also tighten and smooth the underlying supportive tissue that defines the shape of the upper arm and reduce localized pockets of fat. The overall result is a more toned and proportionate appearance. A general anesthetic is required. A compression garment or tensor bandages will be worn to minimize swelling and patients will typically recover in two to three weeks.

Brachioplasty, more commonly known as an arm lift, is a surgical procedure in which excess, sagging skin is removed from the underside of the arms. The intended result is more of a well defined, trim upper arm that compliments your figure.

Who Is A Candidate?

Candidates for brachioplasty can be both men and women, who have loose or excess skin as a result of excessive weight loss, typically. The soft tissue of the arm becomes lax, contributing to ptosis or sagging of the skin creating often a wing like appearance. Aging and genetics are also contributing factors. Liposuction may also be appropriate in combination with the brachioplasty.

Preparation For Surgery

It is very important that Dr. Van Laeken is aware of the state of your general health prior to surgery. Please let her know of any allergies you have, medications, herbal supplements, or vitamins you are taking as well as the reasons for taking them. It is also important that you inform Dr. Van Laeken if you have a tendency for keloid scarring (thick, wide, or raised scars).

If you are a smoker we encourage you to quit prior to proceeding with an brachioplasty. Smoking can interfere with the blood flow to the skin, and will inhibit the healing of the incisions.

Depending on your age as well as your general health pre-operative tests may be ordered, such as blood tests, or an ECG (electrocardiogram).

It is important that you avoid taking vitamin E, anti-inflammatories or aspirin products for 2 weeks prior to surgery. These products are anti-coagulants, and could lead to hematoma formation and bleeding during the surgery.

Most patients who have sedentary jobs plan to take 2 weeks off work. If your job involves a great deal of physical activity Dr. Van Laeken can advise you as to how much time you should take off.


Dr. Van Laeken operates at several different hospitals, but generally performs the Brachioplasty procedure at either the Cambie Surgery Centre, or the False Creek Surgery Centre. These are both state of the art, fully accredited private surgical facilities.

The procedure is usually performed under a general anaesthetic.

The incision for the brachioplasty spans from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow on either the inside or back of the arm. Incision pattern and length are dependent on the volume of tissue to be addressed. Occasionally, Dr. Van Laeken will recommend liposuction for optimal contouring of the site. After the incision is made, the redundant skin and tissue are removed. Absorbable sutures are generally used to close the wound and either a tensor or compression garment is worn for support post operatively.

Procedural Steps:

What happens during arm lift surgery?

Step 1 – The incision

Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as the best judgment of your plastic surgeon.

Incisions are generally placed on the inside of the arm or on the back of the arm, depending on the surgeon’s preference, and may extend from the underarm (axilla) to just above the elbow. If fat is to be reduced during your arm lift, it will be excised or treated with liposuction.

Inner Arm Incision


Depending on your specific conditions, incisions may be more limited. Then, underlying supportive tissue is tightened and reshaped with internal sutures. Finally, the skin is smoothed over the new contour of your arm.

Back of Arm Incision


Minimal Incision


Step 2 – Closing the incisions

Your incisions will be closed with absorbable sutures, or stitches that will be removed within 1-2 weeks following your arm lift.

Step 3 – See the results

The smoother, tighter contours that result from brachioplasty are apparent almost immediately following your procedure, although initial results will be somewhat obscured by swelling and bruising. Your new, shapely and toned upper arm is dramatically improved both in appearance and feel.


When you arrive home from the clinic, you should rest in bed with your arms elevated on pillows. Ice packs may be useful to minimize swelling and a prescription for pain medication should be taken as outlined on the bottle. Swelling will be most evident in the first several days following the procedure. Bruising and swelling may persist for up to 3 months. Drink plenty of fluids to help prevent dehydration.

You may shower only after the initial dressing is removed by our staff. Typically, this first post operative visit is one week after surgery. The appropriate compression garment should be worn for 6 weeks.

Most people will be able to return to work 2-3 weeks after their procedure. Dr. Van Laeken will recommend individual instructions as necessary based on your job duties. Avoid any strenuous exercise for one month, and avoid heavy lifting for 6 weeks. You should not drive for approximately 2 weeks following the procedure.

Potential Complications

There are risks associated with any type of surgery. Although the incidence of complications is rare Dr. Van Laeken feels that all patients should be informed of the potential complications prior to proceeding with surgery.

This procedure is subject to the same complications as all other surgical procedures such as infection, bleeding, and failure to heal, which could require appropriate treatment including possible further surgery.

  • Haematoma
  • Infection
  • Seroma
  • Necrosis
  • Swelling
  • Hypersensitivity / Numbness
  • Unfavorable Scarring

Read definitions for potential complications.


View before and after photos

Contact us to book your consultation!


Email: info@vanlaeken.com