It’s natural for breasts to fall or sag as skin elasticity declines with age, and other factors like pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight changes, or the natural pull of gravity take effect. Breast lifts and reductions can improve your comfort, restore the appearance of your breasts, and reduce back or neck pain related to the weight of your breasts. In this blog, we’ll outline the types of incisions that are used to achieve these goals. The nuances of surgery vary between surgeons and individual patients, but most surgeons rely on these incision types to maximize beautiful outcomes, minimize scarring, and improve patient comfort and safety.
Lollipop lift vs. anchor lift
Lollipop and anchor are the two most popular incision types for breast lifts. Your surgeon will help establish the right kind of surgical procedure for your breasts. This is based on the size and weight of your breasts, as well as your body type.
During an anchor lift, a circular incision is made around the pigmented skin around the nipple (the areola), with a straight incision down the underside of the breast. Finally, the incision continues in a curve along the crease where the breast meets the chest, also known as the inframammary fold. Yes, you guessed it…this combo creates the shape of an anchor. The surgeon uses this incision to lift or reshape the breast tissue and bring the nipple up higher on the breast before closing the incision. This lift does result in scarring, but it also creates a perkier and tighter-looking breast shape. Anchor incisions are sometimes known as Wise pattern incisions, named after the surgeon Robert Wise who first developed this technique.
This incision starts similarly to the anchor lift, with a circular shape around the areola and a vertical line downwards. The only difference is that little curve or smile underneath the breast; in a lollipop lift, this part of the incision is left out. This leaves a shape that’s similar to a lollipop—a circle on top of a vertical line. There is less visible scarring with a lollipop lift, but your surgeon will also have less space in which to manipulate tissue. An anchor incision is often the best option for patients with a very significant degree of ptosis (sagging), whereas a lollipop incision may be appropriate for patients with more moderate sagging—your surgeon will assess where you fall on this scale.
What incision type heals faster?
Lollipop lifts typically heal faster than lifts using an anchor incision do, because they are somewhat less invasive. But with both breast lift types, you’ll want to avoid straining or heavy lifting for the months following surgery. During recovery, you’ll need to stay sedentary for a few days following surgery and you’ll notice some swelling and bruising as your surgical wounds heal.
What kinds of incisions are used for breast reductions?
Most breast reductions use an anchor incision. Fat and tissue is removed to reduce the size of the breast through these incisions.The nipple is often also moved up to a higher position on the breast, and the areola may be reshaped to suit the new breast size. We recommend liposuction in combination with breast reduction to help shape and contour the new breast shape.
How is breast reduction surgery different from a breast lift?
A breast lift typically addresses sagging and/or deflated breasts for a more elevated, perky look. A breast reduction reshapes or downsizes heavy breasts for cosmetic or health reasons. Some women with heavier breasts experience back pain, discomfort along shoulders and neck, and deep grooves where bra straps lie on the shoulders. A breast reduction lightens this load and reshapes breasts to take pressure and weight off the chest and back. With a breast lift, the incisions are made to strategically lift the breasts but the overall volume of the breast doesn’t change much. For patients that are dealing with both excess breast volume and significant sagging, a breast reduction and lift can be combined. During your consultation, your surgeon will walk you through the nuances of your surgery so you know what kind of incisions we’ll be using, and how you can heal optimally for a beautiful result.
What about donut or crescent incisions?
Donut and crescent incisions can also be used to lift or reshape the size or contours of the breasts. A donut incision is a simple, circular incision around the areola only, and a crescent incision is a rainbow-shaped incision along the top half-circle of the areola. These incisions are less invasive than lollipop or anchor incisions because they involve less cutting and traditionally leave less scarring as a result. For most breast lifts or reductions, a lollipop or anchor incision will be needed to produce optimal results, but we occasionally use donut or crescent incisions when appropriate.
What is breast surgery recovery like?
Recovery varies, but most of our patients are surprised by how comfortable they can be as they recover from surgery. After surgery, we’ll cover your incisions with steri strips (white tapes) and you will be wrapped with a comfortable Tensor bandage to support your breasts. After three days, this wrap can be removed and you’ll be able to start showering normally with soap and water. You’ll need to wear a supportive sports bra without underwire for several weeks during the day and at night to give your breasts support as they recover from surgery. We offer our patients support with an effective combination of anti-inflammatory and pain medication to combat any post-surgical discomfort. You can also read more in our guide to breast surgery recovery.
Ready to explore surgical options?
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