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Elasticity imaging is based on the measurements of local tissue deformation. The approach to ultrasound elasticity imaging presented in this paper relies on the estimation of dense displacement fields by a coarse-to-fine minimization of an energy function that combines constraints of conservation of echo amplitude and displacement field continuity. The multiscale optimization scheme presents several characteristics aimed at improving and accelerating the convergence of the minimization process. This includes the nonregularized initialization at the coarsest resolution and the use of adaptive configuration spaces. Parameters of the energy model and optimization were adjusted using data obtained from a tissue-like phantom material. Elasticity images from normal in vivo breast tissue were subsequently obtained with these parameters. Introducing a smoothness constraint into motion field estimation helped solve ambiguities due to incoherent motion, leading to elastograms less degraded by decorrelation noise than the ones obtained from correlation-based techniques.