The 5 Most Commonly Used Breast Lift Techniques

The Benefits and Risks of These Popular Procedures

Breast ptosis or sagging of the breast can occur with age, pregnancy or breastfeeding, and weight loss. A breast lift (mastopexy) surgery is a cosmetic procedure that raises and restores a youthful appearance of the breast. This is accomplished by removing excess skin and tightening, reshaping, and supporting breast tissue.

There are several different incision patterns and techniques used in breast lift surgery. Each technique is suited to different types of patients and desired results. Some of these techniques have been in use for a long time, while others are still fairly new.

This article reviews some of the most commonly used techniques, including the anchor, lollipop, donut, crescent, and “scarless” lifts.

Anchor Lift

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anchor incision illustration

Natalie Kita

The anchor lift incision is made around the perimeter of the areola, vertically down from the areola to the breast crease, and horizontally along the breast crease.

This technique produces the most scarring and is suitable for women with a severe degree of sagging who will not be helped sufficiently by less invasive techniques. The anchor incision is the oldest technique used for breast lifts and is the desired technique in large-volume breast reductions.

Vertical scar techniques like the anchor incision are best suited when smaller volumes of skin and internal tissues are to be removed, resulting in shorter scars and a reduced risk of puckering and indentations.

Lollipop Lift

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lollipop incision illustration

Natalie Kita

The lollipop lift involves an incision that is made around the perimeter of the areola and vertically down from the areola to the breast crease. It is also known as a vertical breast lift.

This technique is suitable for women with a moderate degree of sagging who will not be helped sufficiently by less invasive techniques and do not wish to have breast implants inserted.

Donut Lift

This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

donut lift illustration

Natalie Kita

The donut lift involves an incision that is made around the perimeter of the areola only. It is called a peri-areolar incision or a Benelli lift (so-named for the surgeon who pioneered the technique in 1990). The donut lift was designed to minimize scarring, preserve nipple sensation, and shorten surgery time.

This technique is suitable for people with a mild to moderate degree of sagging. However, when used by a skilled surgeon in conjunction with the placement of breast implants, the donut lift can produce satisfactory results for women with more pronounced sagging.

Crescent Lift

This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.

crescent incision illustration

Natalie Kita

Although less commonly used than the other techniques, the cresent lift involves an crescent shaped incision that lies just along the upper half of the areola.

The ends of this crescent shaped skin are then reattached with fine sutures. This type of lift is usually done in conjunction with breast augmentation and is most suitable for people with a small amount of sagging.

The crescent lift can also be used to lift the nipple and areola only or correct nipple asymmetry (when one nipple is higher than the other). The results are generally very good with 98% of patients expressing satisfaction with the altered appearance of their breasts.

Scarless Lift

Woman explaining breast worries to doctor

yacobchuk / Getty Images

For a select few people whose cosmetic concern has more to do with the loss of volume than with actual sagging, there are procedures available to lift the appearance of the breast that is touted as “scarless."

These procedures can utilize or combine various techniques, including thermage (radiofrequency skin tightening), laser liposuction, and quill threads (barbed sutures that don't require knotting) to lift the breasts with minimal scarring.

However, many of these procedures require incisions of some sort, no matter how small or well-hidden. Therefore, they cannot truthfully be called "scarless."

Best Candidates For Scarless Lift

These procedures are best suited for people with very little breast sagging. Like the crescent technique, they will not accomplish the same amount of lifting as those that employ larger incisions.

There is limited research available to evaluate the success rate of scarless breast lifts. Breast liposuction is the best-studied of the procedures; it is ideal for those with minor asymmetry and less suitable for people with severe drooping or poor skin elasticity.

Summary

Age, pregnancy or breastfeeding, and weight loss can all lead to breast sagging. A breast lift (mastopexy) is plastic surgery that raises and restores the youthful appearance of the breast. This is accomplished by removing excess skin and tightening, reshaping, and supporting breast tissue.

There are different types of techniques and incisions used based on the patient, amount of sagging, nipple symmetry, and desired results. Breast lifts can be done alone or in conjunction with breast augmentation. Breast augmentation is the use of implants or transplanted fat to increase the size or fullness of the breast.

A Word From Verywell

If you are bothered by the appearance of your breasts and feel they sag and have lost shape, you may be a good candidate for breast lift surgery. This is especially true if you feel it has affected your self-esteem, confidence, or relationships.

There are several types of breast lifts available to you. It can be helpful to consult with several plastic surgeons and ask which technique they recommend before making up your mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the difference between a breast lift and breast augmentation?

    A breast lift does not change the size or add fullness to the breast. Breast augmentation involves either a fat transfer or implants to make the breast larger and fuller.

  • Is there a nonsurgical breast lift?

    While they may not give the same results as a surgical breast lift, there are non-surgical options for those who do not want to undergo surgery or anesthesia. Some of these techniques include thread lifts, laser therapy, injections of your own blood (Vampire lift), botox, and fillers. 

  • How long does a breast lift last?

    Many plastic surgeons state that 10-15 years is the average life span of a breast lift. It depends on age, pregnancies, genetics, dietary habits, overall health, and surgical technique. Taking good care of your skin, avoiding weight fluctuation, and wearing a supportive bra helps you achieve long-lasting results.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Brandi Jones, MSN-ED RN-BC
Brandi is a nurse and the owner of Brandi Jones LLC. She specializes in health and wellness writing including blogs, articles, and education.

Originally written by Natalie Kita