The Donut (Periareolar) Breast Lift

If you’re considering a breast lift but have concerns about scarring, a periareolar breast lift might be a good option for you. Commonly referred to as a donut lift, this particular breast lift method leaves behind minimal scarring, takes less time than other breast lift methods, and preserves sensation in the nipple. The donut lift isn’t for everyone, however, so it’s important to make sure you’re a good candidate.

What is a Donut (Periareolar) Breast Lift?

When plastic surgeons perform a breast lift, he achieves results by removing the stretched, excess skin that allows the breasts to sag and droop. During a donut lift, the surgeon makes an incision around the edge of the areola. He then removes skin in a circular pattern around the areola at a diameter of 2 to 3 centimeters, depending on the needs of the patient. The removed skin often includes a portion of the areola, as well. The incision is then closed, leaving a scar around and somewhat hidden in the areola.

Who is a Good Candidate for the Donut Lift?

You’re a good candidate for a donut lift if your breasts are on the smaller side and the amount of sag, called ptosis, is limited. Those with more severe ptosis can sometimes get away with a donut lift when they combine the breast lift with a breast augmentation. A donut lift can also reduce the size of your areolas, but as we will discuss more in-depth later, this is not always guaranteed.

Pros and Cons of the Donut Breast Lift

Before scheduling a donut lift, it’s important that you understand both the pros and cons of the procedure. The pros are many. For one, the scars are placed at the edge of your areola where the skin color and texture naturally change so they’re usually hidden quite well. A donut lift is a shorter procedure than other types of breast lifts, which can mean less time under general anesthesia. This particular lift style also preserves sensation in the nipple and breast tissue — something that other breast surgeries can sometimes alter.

Unfortunately, a donut lift won’t help every patient. A donut lift will lift the breasts only about 3 to 4 centimeters (about 1.5 inches). This is enough when the sagging is mild but won’t address more severe cases of ptosis. A donut lift can also flatten the breasts against the chest a bit. They’ll be the same size after surgery, but they may not project (stick out) as far from the chest wall.

As briefly mentioned earlier, one potential benefit of the donut lift is that it can make the areolas smaller, but only sometimes. When performing a donut lift, many surgeons remove tissue around the areola as well as part of the areola itself. One reason for doing so is to make the areola smaller in patients who desire that aesthetic. But surgeons also do this because women sometimes find that their areolas get larger after a donut lift.

Removing extra areolar tissue can help combat this, but it’s hard to know if and how far any given patient’s areolas may stretch. Sometimes only one areola stretches while the other maintains its size and shape. It often depends on how the incisions heal. Not all women experience this areolar stretching, but enough do that you should be aware of the possibility and discuss any concerns about it with your plastic surgeon. He can adjust the amount of areolar tissue he takes to accommodate your specific desires.

How Long and What is Recovery Like After Getting a Donut Lift?

A donut lift may lead to a smaller scar than other breast lift procedures, but it’s still a surgery that requires adequate rest and recovery. Your surgeon will likely ask you to wear a compression garment for 6 weeks after your surgery. He’ll also ask that you sleep on your back, attend to your bandages and surgical drains as applicable, and refrain from moving your arms above your head or away from your sides. Most patients can return to work in about 2 weeks.

You will likely receive a prescription for pain medication as well. Take this medication as directed by your doctor. Please don’t skip your medication and subject yourself to unnecessary discomfort. If you have concerns about or a history of abusing pain medication, talk to your doctor before your surgery to devise a personalized treatment plan.

What is Scarring Like After a Donut Breast Lift?

After a donut lift procedure, you will have an incision encircling your entire areola. As this incision heals it will form a scar. This scar may be a slightly different color or texture than the surrounding skin. In the case of a donut lift, however, the scar is contained within the areola where skin texture and color naturally change, making it less visible. The scar will also fade in time, although it may never become completely invisible.

If you feel your scar is very noticeable or bothersome, you can begin using silicone scar treatment as soon as the incision heals completely. In extreme cases, scar revision surgery may also be possible. Most women find the scarring from a donut lift minimal and not at all bothersome, however.

How Long Until Results Are Seen?

Breast changes are noticeable immediately after breast lift surgery, but the changes you notice may not be permanent. Although your breasts will sit higher and should continue to do so, their exact shape may change a bit as surgical swelling and inflammation ease.

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