Breast Lift Techniques – Which One Is Right for You

By Dr Jake Lim – Plastic Surgeon | Updated: May 5, 2024

Choosing the Right Breast Lift – Mastopexy Technique

A breast lift, also known as mastopexy, is a surgical procedure designed to restore a firmer, perkier shape to sagging breasts. As our bodies change over time due to factors like pregnancy, breastfeeding, or weight fluctuations, the breasts can lose their contour and fullness. A breast lift – mastopexy aims to raise and reshape the breasts by removing excess skin and tightening the surrounding tissue. The appropriate breast lift technique for you depends on your individual breast characteristics, such as size, shape, degree of sagging, areola position, and skin quality. In this blog, Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim will explore the various breast lift methods, including the crescent, periareolar, vertical, and inverted T lifts, to help you make an informed decision for achieving your desired results.

Download Dr Lim’s Free 2024 Breast Lift Surgery Guide (Mastopexy)

Breast Lift (Mastopexy) Guide

Breast Lift Techniques

Here are some popular breast lift techniques and details about the surgical approach:

Crescent Lift

The crescent breast lift is a less invasive procedure that can improve the shape and contour of the breasts. It involves making a small, crescent-shaped incision across the top half of the areola to remove excess skin and lift the breast. This procedure is recommended for women with mild breast sagging and smaller breasts, as it can provide up to a 2 cm lift of the nipple.

One of the main advantages of the crescent lift is minimal scarring, as the incision blends with the outer edge of the areola. Additionally, the recovery time is relatively quick, with patients typically able to return to work in around 10 days and resume light exercise after 2 weeks. The final, permanent results of the crescent lift are seen once the swelling subsides, usually 3 to 6  months after the procedure.

Here are some points about the crescent breast lift:

  • It is one of several breast lift – mastopexy options, including the periareolar, vertical, and inverted-T lifts
  • The crescent incision is the smallest of all the breast lift incision techniques
  • During the procedure, a small amount of tissue is removed, and the bottom of the incision is lifted to meet the top, suturing the incision closed to subtly elevate the breast and lift the areola and nipple
  • The crescent breast lift is best suited for patients with smaller breasts and minimal breast sagging, as it only provides a small degree of elevation
  • While it can help restore a more elevated breast appearance, the breasts will continue to change over time as the body ages
  • It may not be suitable for women with moderate to significant breast sagging, who may require a more invasive lift procedure

Periareolar or ‘Donut’ Lift

The periareolar or ‘donut’ breast lift is a less invasive procedure compared to a full mastopexy. It is suitable for women with mild breast sagging or ptosis, where the nipple position needs to be elevated, but a full breast lift is not required. The incision is confined to only around the areola, without the vertical or under-breast incisions of a traditional breast lift. This results in less scarring but also limits the degree of lift and correction that can be achieved.

The donut lift can be combined with breast augmentation using implants to enhance breast shape, size, and position. Recovery time is generally faster than a full breast lift – mastopexy, with patients able to return to work in a few days. However, potential downsides include a higher risk of areola stretching and asymmetry compared to other lift techniques.

Candidates for a donut lift are those with smaller breasts and mild breast sagging who want to elevate the nipple position and reduce areola size, but do not require a dramatic lift. The procedure:

  • Limits scarring around the areola, making it nearly undetectable
  • Can improve conditions like mild to moderate breast sagging, slightly low nipples, nipple-areolar asymmetry, large areolas, mild to moderate breast asymmetry, and puffy areolas
  • Does not increase breast volume, so patients may need to combine it with breast augmentation using implants
  • Typically allows a lift of around 4 cm, suitable for mild sagging
  • Requires wearing a compression garment for about 6 weeks after surgery
  • Has a recovery time of around 2 weeks before returning to work

While the donut lift can provide a firmer breast appearance, it may not be suitable for patients with larger breasts or more severe sagging, who may benefit more from a traditional breast lift.

Breast Lift Without Implants Patient 5 — Front View
Breast Lift Without Implants Patient 5 — Front View

Vertical or ‘Lollipop’ Lift

The vertical or ‘lollipop’ breast lift is a popular technique that strikes a balance between the less invasive crescent lift and the more extensive anchor lift. It involves two incisions: a circular incision around the areola and a vertical incision along the underside of the breast. This approach allows for significant adjustments to enhance breast perkiness while minimising scarring compared to the traditional anchor incision method.

Good candidates for the lollipop lift are women experiencing moderate to severe breast sagging or drooping, but not to an extreme degree. The procedure can effectively address noticeable sagging that requires more than minor adjustments, without the need for the additional horizontal incision along the breast crease.

Key points about the lollipop breast lift:

  • Suitable for women with moderate to severe breast sagging or asymmetry
  • Involves two incisions: around the areola and a vertical line down to the breast crease
  • Creates a significant change in breast shape and perkiness
  • Involves more incisions and scarring than techniques like the crescent lift
  • Performed under general anaesthesia, with a recovery period of 2 weeks for light exercise and 6 weeks for full exercise
  • Final results are visible 6 months to 1 year after surgery

The lollipop lift is a versatile option that balances the extent of correction with the amount of scarring, making it a popular choice for women seeking a noticeable lift without the more extensive incisions of the anchor technique.

Inverted T or ‘Anchor’ Lift

The inverted T breast lift, also known as the anchor lift, is one of the four main types of breast lift procedures. It is suitable for women with severe breast drooping or large breasts that require substantial tightening. The procedure involves three incisions:

  • Around the areola
  • Down towards the breast crease
  • Across the breast crease, creating an ‘inverted T’ or ‘anchor’ shaped scar

Pros of the Inverted T Lift

  • Helps minimise sagging and drooping for a firmer breast appearance
  • Realigns asymmetrical breasts
  • Provides a significant change for women with severe sagging

Cons of the Inverted T Lift

  • More extensive scarring due to the larger incisions
  • Potentially impacts breastfeeding ability

The inverted ‘T’ mastopexy is the classic technique for breast lifting, particularly useful for women with moderate to severe breast ptosis (sagging). The final scar pattern is an inverted ‘T’ shape, with a scar around the areola, down the centre of the breast to the breast fold, and across the base of the breast.

The inverted-T breast lift is considered one of the most powerful mastopexy techniques for women with significant breast skin excess. The inverted T incision may have the potential to preserve hypersensitive or erotic nipple sensation by preserving the pedicle, a portion of tissue behind the areola that contains the original blood and nerve supply.

How to Choose the Breast Lift – Mastopexy Technique for You

Choosing the appropriate breast lift technique is a highly personalised decision that should be based on your specific goals, breast characteristics, and consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon. Here are some factors to consider:

Breast Lift With Implants Patient 11 — Angle View
Breast Lift With Implants Patient 11 — Angle View

Degree of Breast Sagging (Ptosis)

  • The pencil test can help determine if a breast lift is needed – if the nipple falls below the inframammary fold when a pencil is placed in the crease under the breast, a lift may be beneficial
  • Mild sagging may be addressed with a crescent or periareolar (donut) lift, involving minimal incisions around the areola
  • Moderate sagging often requires a vertical (lollipop) lift, with an incision around the areola and a vertical line down to the breast crease
  • Severe sagging typically necessitates an inverted T (anchor) lift, with an additional horizontal incision along the breast crease for maximum lifting

Breast Size and Volume

  • Smaller breasts with minimal sagging may only need a crescent or periareolar lift
  • Larger, heavier breasts often require more extensive lifting techniques like the vertical or anchor lift to achieve the desired shape and position

Desired Outcome

  • If you only wish to restore a perkier breast shape without significantly increasing size, a breast lift – mastopexy alone may suffice
  • If you desire both a lift and increased volume, combining a breast lift with implants (augmentation/mastopexy) can achieve your goals

Skin Elasticity and Quality

  • Patients with good skin elasticity may achieve better results with less invasive lift techniques
  • Those with poor skin quality or significant stretching may require more extensive incisions for adequate tightening

It’s important to have an in-depth consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon such as Dr Jake Lim. Dr Lim can evaluate your unique anatomy and desires to recommend the most suitable breast lift – mastopexy technique tailored to your needs.

FAQs about Breast Lift – Mastopexy Techniques


Who is a good candidate for a breast lift?

  • Good candidates for a breast lift – mastopexy are generally women who are healthy, non-smokers, and at a stable weight. Good candidates have sagging breasts that have lost shape and volume or breasts that have a flatter, elongated shape or are pendulous. Women who have nipples that fall below the breast crease or point downward may also consider a breast lift.

What can I expect during recovery?

  • Recovery from a breast lift – mastopexy surgery varies by individual and the technique used. Generally, patients can expect some swelling, bruising, and discomfort for the first few weeks. Dr Lim recommends taking at least a week off from work to rest. It’s important to avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for up to six weeks post-surgery.

Will there be scars?

  • Yes, all breast lift – mastopexy techniques involve some degree of scarring. However, the extent and visibility of scars depend on the surgical technique used and your healing process. Dr Lim typically places incisions in areas that can be hidden by clothing and bathing suits. Over time, scars may fade but will not completely disappear.

How long will the results last?

  • The results of a breast lift are long-lasting, but they are not permanent. Factors such as ageing, gravity, weight fluctuations, and childbirth can affect the longevity of the results. Maintaining a stable weight and a healthy lifestyle can help extend the results.

Can a breast lift – mastopexy be combined with other procedures?

  • Yes, a breast lift – mastopexy can often be combined with other procedures for more complex results. The most common combination is a breast lift with augmentation (using implants or fat transfer) to restore or enhance breast volume in addition to lifting. Some patients also opt for a breast reduction combined with a lift for more comfortable and proportionate results. Additionally, breast lifts can be performed together with body procedures such as tummy tuck – abdominoplasty, liposuction and body lift.

Further Reading about Mastopexy with Sydney Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Jake Lim

Medical References about Breast Lift Surgery

About Dr Jake Lim

Highly qualified and experienced specialist plastic surgeon Dr Jake Lim focuses on facial plastic, cosmetic breast and body contouring after significant weight loss

Dr Lim creates the best possible plastic surgery results for his Australia-wide and international patients.

Dr Lim is passionate about making sure each and every patient has access to the right information about available treatments and procedures and is able to make well-informed decisions.

At My Klinik, patient safety, education and achieving optimal results are our top priorities.