There’s more than one way to place breast implants into the body — and each has its own benefits and drawbacks. You’ll want to discuss the various implant techniques with your plastic surgeon, to determine which one is the best for your particular situation.
For nearly all of these techniques, your surgeon will use an endoscope, a small camera attached to a tube, to be able to see into your breast, place your breast implants in the proper position and minimize the risk of damage to the surrounding breast tissue.
Surgical Techniques for Breast Augmentation
Inframammary breast augmentation is the most popular way for surgeons to place the breast implant. A small incision is cut into the fold beneath the breast, where it won’t be as noticeable, and the doctor uses an endoscope to view beneath and ensure proper placement. This surgical technique is less likely to cause damage to the mammary glands and impact future breastfeeding, but the scars can still be noticeable when you’re lying down.
For transaxillary breast augmentation, the scar is placed in the folds of your armpit, where it’s less noticeable, even if you raise your arms. Usually this is less likely to affect the mammary glands, but you raise the risk of improper placement, as your doctor has to go through more of your body to reach the space where the breast implants will be placed. This is the second most popular technique, as many surgeons feel this enables them to create greater symmetry between the breasts.
For the transumbilical breast augmentations, also called TUBA or “belly button” breast implants, the incision is placed right inside the belly button — making it virtually undetectable. The doctor is able to place it using an endoscope, and inflate it once she reaches the surgical site. On the plus side, this technique produces the least amount of scarring, and may result in a shorter recovery period and less trauma to your body. But using this technique can limit you to only using saline implants, as the implant will need to be filled after it’s been placed, and there’s a greater risk of complications and improper placement of the implants, due to the long path your surgeon needs to take to reach the breasts from the belly button. And the FDA warns surgeons not to use this technique — though some still do.
In a periareolar breast augmentation, the plastic surgeon cuts around the areola to create the opening for the implant. The scar is then blended into the darker skin around the nipple and becomes significantly less noticeable. Unfortunately, though, this type of breast implant placement can carry an increased risk of damage to the nerves and the mammary glands, resulting in a loss of feeling in the breast and a loss of ability to breastfeed.