Create larger, fuller and often more lifted breasts with fluid-filled implants.
Our surgeons use the newest surgical method leaving virtually no scars.
Trans-Umbilical Breast Augmentation (TUBA) v. underarm insertion
Trans-Umbilical Breast Augmentation (TUBA) implants are placed under the
breasts through the navel using an endoscope leaving an essentially invisible
scar hidden in the navel and no scarring on or around the breasts.
This endoscopic procedure involves a small incision in the belly button.
A tunnel is made through subcutaneous abdominal fat and a pocket is created
either on top of or under the pectoralis major muscle. The implant is
placed through the tunnel and inflated. Final adjustments are made to
the implant pocket and the incision is then closed. The procedure is commonly
performed using local anesthesia and with intravenous sedation.
Advantages of the TUBA procedure include:
- A single inconspicuous scar deep within the navel
- Less invasive and, therefore, less breast trauma
- Minimal bleeding
- Faster recovery
- Less risk of injury to the sensory nerves of the nipple and breast
- Shorter operative time
- Less anesthesia
- Lower rate of capsular contraction (see under silicone).
- Can be used with TUBA method.
- Can be filled once placed in body.
- Can be adjusted after placement.
- Considered safer because saline is essentially water, so there are few
concerns if an implant leaks or ruptures.
- Usually slightly overfilled to minimize ripples along implant edges and
to prevent folding. This makes the implant feel a bit firmer.
- Can have mammograms for breast cancer screening rather than more expensive MRI.
- More natural feel and appearance.
- Slightly higher rate of capsular contraction causing distortion, hardness
and sometimes chronic pain.
- Pre-filled requiring larger skin incision and cannot be used with TUBA method.
- Requires biannual MRIs to screen for implant ruptures (more pricey than
Implants may be placed between the gland and the chest muscles or underneath
the pectoralis muscles. Location choice is determined based on the need
for adequate soft tissue necessary to minimize visibility of implant edges.
- Placed under the gland and on top of the pectoralis major muscle.
- For those patients who have sufficient breast and subcutaneous tissue,
results are more natural.
- Requires less dissection, is less traumatic and, therefore, results in
- Provides slightly more soft-tissue for implants placed underneath the pectoralis
major muscle. Typically, the muscle is detached from the lower ribs and
does not cover the lower portion of the implant.
- Because some muscle attachments are disrupted, this placement is more traumatic
and may increase recovery time.
- Because the implant is partially placed beneath a powerful muscle, it will
temporarily change shape with vigorous contraction of the pectoralis.
This deformation is minimal but may be noticeable to the patient during
Generally, the larger the implant, the more obvious it will be and the
more it will sag over time.
Breast implant size is a personal decision determined by patient desire
and what the patient’s tissues can accommodate. The amount of soft
tissue coverage is key to determining how large an implant is reasonable.
We use a system of objective measurements to determine a reasonably sized
implant for each patient. We ask patients to participate in this process
by padding a sports bra to determine the approximate size the patient wants.
We have a great deal of experience performing surgery using local anesthesia
with intravenous sedation in our hospital procedure room. Most patients
tolerate it well, have little, if any, memory of the procedure and recover
is relatively quickly.
Common misconceptions about transumbilical breast augmentation (TUBA)?
The most common myths concerning transumbilical breast augmentation were
summarized and dispelled in an article published in the official journal
of the American Society of Plastic Surgery* as paraphrased below:
It is too difficult to dissect all the way up there.
The pocket is created not by dissection, but by expansion. There is no
cutting behind or in the breast. Pocket creation is actually
easier than using any other method.
There are too many complications.
The original study showed a
lower complication rate than with other methods. There is also less bleeding
compared to other methods.
The surgeon cannot control bleeding.
There is a remarkable absence of bleeding with TUBA and
rarely any bleeding at all to control. However, doing so presents no problem by visualizing the implant pocket
through an endoscope.
The surgeon cannot position the implants properly.
Because the surgeon sees the exact shape of the breast and position of
the implant during the expansion phase,
there is no guesswork in implant positioning.
Pushing implants through the tube damages them.
Implants are not pushed through a tube. The implant is seated on the end
of a tube used to push implants into position.
The technique leads to visible track deformities on the abdomen.
The author saw no visible track deformity in seven years performing TUBA.
Using the implant as an expander damages it.
This is the most understandable of the misconceptions. Originally, the
implant itself was used as an expander, putting it under excessive stress.
This has not been done since 1992. Instead, a separate expander step has been incorporated into the technique.
Using the transumbilical technique will void the warranty on the implant.
This is patently untrue.
We have verified with implant manufacturers that this technique does not
void the warranty.
It is a blind technique.
This has no significance in actual practice. Tissue expansion, rhinoplasty
and liposuction are all "blind" techniques that are well-accepted, performed
frequently and have low complication rates. Moreover, the transumbilical
technique is the only one of these "blind" approaches in which the operative site is
inspected with an endoscope, so is not truly blind.
The technique increases the risk of implant failure.
untrue in both practice and theory.
Is only suitable for prepectoral placement.
This was initially true. However, instrumentation and techniques for subpectoral
placement have been available for some time.
Removal of the implant cannot be done through a transumbilical incision."
The saline implants are
easily removed through the navel.
"Disrupting the abdominal muscles causes excessive pain.
Abdominal muscles are not disrupted in any way. The entire procedure is performed above the anterior rectus
fascia in the subcutaneous plane. One noteworthy feature of the transumbilical
procedure is that it is less painful than other methods and results in
The technique cannot be performed if the patient has an umbilical hernia.
The original article cited "abdominal hernia" as a possible contraindication
to transumbilical augmentation. In fact,
an umbilical hernia can be repaired at the same time.
The implant must pass between the abdominal organs.
The transumbilical procedure is
entirely subcutaneous and does not involve abdominal organs or muscles.
The technique cannot be performed if the patient has a navel ring.
Navel rings have proven no obstacle. Some surgeons prefer the ring to be removed during the procedure and reinserted
afterward; others prefer to leave them in place or even use them to aid
Going through the navel will cause infections.
No surgical procedure can be free of the possibility of infection. The
author has seen no infections with the transumbilical procedure; but has
seen them with other methods of augmentation.
Infection is very unlikely. With the incision so remote from the implant, even a wound infection would
be unlikely to reach the implant.
The surgeon cannot control the plane of the implants.
The endoscope is used to
verify that the implant is in the proper plane relative to the pectoralis muscle.
Using a drain would require a breast incision anyway.
Most surgeons performing transumbilical augmentations have not used drains.
Thin, round drains may be used through the navel and so no breast scarring.
At Big Sky Cosmetic Surgery,
we have rarely found drains to be necessary.
*Dowden, R. V. Dispelling the Myths and Misconceptions about Transumbilical
Breast Augmentation. Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. Volume 106(1),
July 2000, pp 190-194