One of the downsides to any plastic surgery is the incisions and scarring that can result. Plastic surgeons do their best to minimize scars, placing them at natural folds in the skin or in other places where they’ll be less noticeable.
A new surgical technique has allowed patients to minimize the amount of scarring caused by breast implants. In transumbilical breast augmentation (TUBA), the plastic surgeon creates a small incision near the belly button, and inserts a small endoscopic tube through the incision, running it through the layer of fat beneath the skin to each breast to create a tunnel. First, the surgeon opens up a pocket in the breast tissue for placing the implants, then the empty implants themselves are placed through the tube into the proper location. A sterile saline solution is run through the tube into the implant, to fill it to the proper size. The implants are checked for placement and symmetry, then the tube is removed, and the incision is sewn shut. A small lighted camera is usually attached to the tube to help the doctor guide it through the patient’s body and ensure proper placement of the breast implants.
Transumbilical Breast Augmentation Benefits
The doctors who perform the transumbilical breast augmentation say that there are several benefits to utilizing this technique:
- There is minimal scarring involved. The only scar is a tiny incision along the outer rim of the belly button, which is barely noticeable.
- The patient doesn’t need to go under general anesthesia. Many surgeons use IV sedation instead for the TUBA procedure, which minimizes the amount of time the patient is under, and reduces the risks associated with going under a general anesthetic.
- The recovery time is greatly reduced. Patients often have a much shorter, and less painful recovery — some even return to work within a couple of days of having the implant surgery.
- The surgery is less traumatic for the breasts. You’ll likely have less bruising and pain in your breasts than you would with a more traditional method of breast augmentation.
Transumbilical Breast Augmentation Concerns
While all of these benefits are obviously a huge upside to choosing the TUBA procedure, some plastic surgeons feel it’s a less-than-optimal option for their patients. Here are the most common concerns with transumbilical breast augmentation cited by surgeons.
- It’s less precise than utilizing a closer incision. The tube has to wend its way through the body and through the delicate muscle structures in the breast, to get to the right position. Many plastic surgeons say that implants done in this way often look less natural, as they’re placed too high on the body and too far apart to create natural cleavage.
- You need to find a surgeon who has significant experience utilizing this technique. Because it can be challenging to place the implants from an incision so far away on the body, choosing a surgeon who has had specialized training in the TUBA procedure and significant experience performing it is your best bet for getting good results with your breast implants.
- It opens you up to a greater risk for other complications. So many vital organs are located within the surgeon’s path from the navel to the breast, including the stomach, liver, heart and lungs. And because the implants have a longer path through your body, there is a higher risk of contamination with bacteria and other contaminants that may be within your body. By utilizing the TUBA procedure, you may be risking your health unnecessarily.
- It can only be used if you choose certain types of implants. Prefilled implants, such as most silicone implants, cannot be inserted using transumbilical breast augmentation. In most cases, you must use saline breast implants if you want to have the TUBA procedure.
- It can only be used if it’s a certain type of augmentation. If you need to have a breast lift or removal of previous implants as part of your surgery, you likely won’t be able to utilize the TUBA procedure.
- Even with traditional breast augmentation surgery, incisions can be placed in other unobtrusive locations. Many doctors prefer to place the scars around the edge of the areola, the darkened area around the nipple, or in the underarm, where it tends to blend in with the surrounding tissue after it has healed and becomes barely noticeable.