Transumbilical Breast Augmentation (TUBA)

Breast Implants via the Navel / Belly Button

TUBA stands for “transumbilical breast augmentation”. In layman’s terms, that means breast augmentation via the umbilicus (the belly button). This is one the most difficult way to perform breast augmentation since the surgeon must work so far away from the breast / surgical site. Locating a surgeon that does this procedure can prove next to impossible if you are unwilling to travel. While some women are fortunate enough to live in close proximity to a surgeon that performs TUBA, most women do not.

Dr. Gerald Johnson invented the TUBA procedure in 1991. While it has continued to gain in popularity over the last two decades, it is still not nearly as widely performed as the crease and areola incisions.

An endoscope is used during transumbilical breast augmentation. An endoscope is a camara with a light on the end of it. The endoscope projects images onto a TV monitor in the operating room, thus allowing the surgeon to see what he or she is doing inside the body. Many women report an easier recovery after having undergone TUBA breast augmentation, possibly due to less trauma with this endoscopic approach.

The advantages and disadvantages of this procedure are listed below. Because this is such a difficult procedure, and because there are risks involved, you should only choose a surgeon that performs TUBA on a regular basis. A plastic surgeon experienced with this procedure is absolutely paramout.

The video below shows a transumbilical breast augmentation.

Advantages of Belly Button Breast Augmentation

There are several advantages to the bely button incision including:

  • The scar is very small and is hidden inside the navel.
  • Larger implants can be places since there is no incision on the breast, which means that the larger implant won’t cause any tension on the incision.
  • Only one incision is required to insert both breast implants.
  • Post-operative recovery may be easier as this procedure is less invasive than the procedures involving the crease, areola, and transaxilary incisions.
  • There are no scars or incisions on the breast.
  • Breast implants can be placed either over the muscle, or under the muscle.
  • If you have an umbilical hernia, your surgeon can repair it (if he or she is willing) while you are having transumbilical breast augmentation.

    Disadvantages of the Belly Button Breast Augmentation

    There are a few downsides to the navel incision.

  • Only very minor revision work can be performed via the belly button. If you have a complication such as bottoming out, capsular contracture, symmastia, etc., you will likely need an incision on the breast, either in the crease, or around the areola.
  • Silicone implants cannot be placed via the belly button. Only inflatable saline breast implants can be used during TUBA.
  • The procedure is more technically difficult since the surgeon is working so far away from the breast.
  • Since there are not a vast amount of surgeons performing this procedure, you may need to travel if you have your heart set on TUBA.
  • Bleeding is not as easily controlled during surgery. Should bleeding become an issue, you will likely need an incision on the breast to get the bleeding under control.
  • Slightly greater risk of damage to the implant during surgery.
  • Slight risk of v-tracks on the skin of the abdomen (but this should not be an issue as long as you have an experienced surgeon.
  • Possibility of tunneling under the chest muscle during implant placement