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What is a Breast Lift?

A breast lift is a plastic surgery procedure that aims to physically lift breast tissue and remove excess skin to raise sagging breasts or to enhance their appearance without removing too much excess tissue. It’s less about reducing the volume as is done in breast reduction, and certainly doesn’t add volume like breast implants do, but rather to achieve a more youthful breast shape that sits higher up on the chest.

Types of Breast Lifts

There are three main types of breast lift, the names of which are based on the shape of the incision and resulting scar. The most common breast lift techniques are:

  • Donut incisions
  • Lollipop or vertical incisions
  • Anchor incisions

The more sagging a patient is experiencing with their breast skin, the more likely that they will need more extensive and longer incisions to achieve a desirable result.

A breast lift does not involve the removal and replacement of the nipple. The nipple and areola remain attached to the breast, and only the surrounding skin is removed. With any of these techniques, the nipple and areola complex can be shifted to either side as well as up, if necessary, for the most aesthetically pleasing appearance.

What to Expect During the Mastopexy Procedure

A mastopexy procedure can differ depending on the type of implant or suture placement that works best for you. Your procedure will be personalized by Dr. Moulton-Barrett himself and made to fit your specific needs and body type.

Mastopexy: Donut

Also called a Benelli mastopexy or circumareolar mastopexy since the incision is around the areola, a donut mastopexy removes a ring of skin from outside the areola. Sutures are then placed around the areola and the skin is tightened like a purse string to lift the breast. Puckering of the skin may occur, and usually resolves on its own within a few months.

The donut mastopexy is also helpful for breast lift patients with a projecting nipple/areola complex (sometimes called torpedo or missile-shaped breasts), and can also be used to reduce the size of the areola at the same time. However, one less satisfactory result is that in the normal-shaped ptotic breast there is a flattening of the areola and peri-areolar skin, reducing the overall projection of the breast.

Mastopexy: Lollipop, Teardrop or Vertical

As the name implies, the incision for a lollipop mastopexy is made around the areola and then down the center of the breast to the inframammary fold. This technique is used for mild to moderate breast ptosis when no more than 3 cm of nipple/areola lift is required. As with the donut lift, the size of the areola may be reduced at the same time.

Mastopexy: Anchor Incision

Also referred to as a Wise pattern (or Weiss pattern) mastopexy, full breast lift, or inverted-T incision, the anchor mastopexy is considered the traditional technique among plastic surgeons for breast lifting. With this technique, elevation of the nipple/areola over 3cms is achievable as well as removal of excessive skin laxity of the lateral and lower poles of the breasts.

The incisions are made around the areola, down the center of the lower portion of the breast, and then across the breast in the inframammary fold. Like the donut and lollipop incisions, the areola can be made smaller at the same time. The resulting scar is in the shape of an anchor. Although the Wise pattern or anchor mastopexy used to be the standard, it is now usually reserved only for those with moderate to severe breast sagging.

What to Expect During Recovery For Breast Lift Procedures

During breast lift recovery, your breasts will be wrapped in gauze dressings and an elastic bandage or support bra will minimize swelling and support the breasts as they heal. Following breast lift surgery, patients may experience discomfort, swelling, and bruising, which typically last from two to three weeks.

The sutures are removed from the breasts after a week or two. Patients are normally able to return to work and light activities after about a week. Prescription pain medications may make patients more comfortable during the first week of breast lift recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

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To find out more about available treatments and procedures, request a consultation with Dr. Moulton-Barrett at one of his Bay Area offices. Board certified plastic surgeon Rex Moulton-Barrett, M.D., offers advanced care and procedures for Bay Area residents. He has offices in Alameda and Brentwood, CA.

Our Clinics

Alameda Clinic


2070 Clinton Ave
Fourth Floor
Alameda, CA 94501

Phone  (510) 864-1800


Brentwood Clinic

1280 Central Blvd
Suite J-5
Brentwood, CA 94513

Phone  (925) 240-8775



Alameda Location:

2070 Clinton Ave, Alameda, CA 94501


Brentwood Location

1280 Central Blvd, Suite J-5, Brentwood, CA 94513