Most Commonly Used Breast Lift Techniques

The Benefits and Risks of 5 Popular Procedures

There are several different incision patterns and techniques used in breast lift surgery, each of which 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 fairly new, and some (such as the procedures hyped as “scarless” lifts) are as of now still considered relatively unproven.

If you are considering having surgery to lift your breasts, educate yourself well on the options available to you, and consult with several surgeons about which technique they might recommend for you before making up your mind.

The Anchor Incision

anchor incision illustration
Illustration © Natalie Kita

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

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 often performed in conjunction with breast reduction.

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.

The Lollipop Lift

lollipop incision illustration
Illustration © Natalie Kita

The lollipop lifts 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 scar keyhole incision procedure.

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.

The Donut Lift

donut lift illustration
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).

This technique is suitable for women 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.

The Crescent Lift

crescent incision illustration
Illustration © Natalie Kita

Although less commonly used than the other techniques, there is a fourth incision type wherein the incision line lies just along the upper half of the areola.

Called the crescent lift, it involves the removal of a crescent-shaped piece of skin from above the areola, the cut ends of which are then reattached with fine sutures. This type of lift is usually done in conjunction with breast augmentation and is suitable only for women with a very small degree of sagging.

The crescent lift can also be used to correct nipple asymmetry (in which one nipple is higher than the other). The results are generally very good with 98% of women expressing satisfaction with the altered appearance of their breasts.

The Scarless Lift

For a select few women 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 procedure require incisions of some sort, no matter how small or well-hidden. Therefore, they cannot truthfully be called "scarless."

These procedures are best suited for women 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 women with severe drooping or poor skin elasticity.

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