Breast Augmentation Through the Belly Button?

I have seen this procedure on television, but with the consultations I've had with doctors, no one really seems to want to do it. Is there a reason why? I know the best incision option for me would be through the areola since one of mine is larger than the other and that could be corrected at the same time. But if it wasn't for that, I would want to go through the belly button due to no detectable scarring. Why is this procedure not as popular?

Doctor Answers (27)

Belly button for breast implants

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The biggest reason I do not use this incision is I prefer the look and feel of silicone breast implants, which cannot be inserted through the belly button. 


Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

Breast Augmentation: Transumbilical Augmentation Vs. Transaxillary Infra-Mammary or Peri Areolar Incisions

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         The transumbilical approach to breast augmentation has advocates, but the vast majority of plastic surgeons prefer other surgical approaches.  Surgeons, who prefer the transumbilical approach, feel that this procedure has the major advantage, of less scarring.  They believe that transumbilical incisions heal imperceptibly.  They acknowledge that there’s a steep learning curve with this procedure and that there are potential problems with implant malposition. There’s no question that excellent results can be obtained with this procedure.

 

         The majority of plastic surgeons prefer the transaxillary infra-mammary or peri areolar incisions.  They feel that these incisions are associated with a decreased incidence of implant malposition.  They also feel that scarring with these incisions is rarely a problem. 

 

         They feel that the probability of implant malposition with transumbilical incisions is higher than the probability of adverse scarring with traditional breast augmentation incisions. 

        

         It’s important to realize that surgeons have different comfort levels with different incisions.  They do their best work when they are able to use their preferred incision.  Although good results can be obtained with transumbilical incisions there’s probably a good reason why the majority of plastic surgeons prefer traditional surgical approaches.  

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 73 reviews

Not everyone is an expert

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The issue with Trans-umbilical Breast Augmentation is that since its done almost "blind", most surgeons are too afraid to even attempt it. It requires a degree of skills that only a few doctors in the world have, including my good colleague Dr. Hasan who created and pioneered the procedure. The procedure is done blind and the measurements are very difficult to manage. Most doctors avoid it our of fear or lack of skills.

Jonathan Fisher, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 121 reviews

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Popularity of TUBA

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I have been doing the TUBA procedure for over twenty years now on patients from all over the world.  The results are excellent in the right hands.  As you read through the responses to this question, you will see a lot of negative things written about the TUBA procedure.  I think these doctors have either never done a TUBA procedure or have never seen one done.  I have had many doctors come to observe me do this procedure and they all leave the O.R. shaking their heads at how easy this procedure is. Why isn't this procedure more popular with doctors?  I have several theories:  1. Doctors tend to be trained in one or two approaches for breast augmentation.  They become comfortable with that approach and don't want to try anything new.  They also don't want to lose patients to doctors who DO perform the TUBA so they simply downplay this approach.  2. Despite the fact that the TUBA approach utilizes well-established concepts that have been around since the 1970's, the doctor who specifically developed the TUBA approach is not a board-certified plastic surgeon so the community of plastic surgeons tends to dismiss his idea outright without ever giving it a chance.  If someone in the hierarchy of plastic surgery had developed this idea, I can guarantee you that EVERYONE would be using this approach.  3. Because most plastic surgeons tend to ignore this approach, the door is open for "cosmetic surgeons" who get their training from weekend courses to exploit this approach for their own use.  Because they are poorly trained, the risk of bad outcomes is greater.  When bad outcomes occur, mainstream plastic surgeons can point and say that it is a bad procedure, not that there are poorly-trained doctors performing the procedure.

Again, as with any procedure, IN THE RIGHT HANDS, this is an excellent approach to putting in saline breast implants either above of below the chest muscle.

Edwin C. Pound, III, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Breast augmentation through the belly button is not very popular.

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TUBA is one of 4 main access incisions used for breast augmentation but is by far the most infrequently performed. If you are absolutely decided on TUBA then please seek out a plastic surgeon that performs a high volume of that particular procedure because There is a VERY steep learning curve. If you go to a surgeon that only performs 30-40 a year you will still be one of the patients he/she is learning on.

By no means do I want to try to persuade you if you are absolutely convinced that TUBA is what you want, but you have to understand that you have to have saline implants -- silicone is NOT an option. You also tend to have a longer recovery because you have a much larger area of tissue trauma (all the way from your belly button to your collar bones). Most if not all of the procedure is performed with a tissue expander which separates the tissue bluntly and can lead to significant bleeding and tissue trauma. You also have a higher chance of malpositioning (asymmetry).
 

Richard H. Fryer, MD
Salt Lake City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 76 reviews

The problems with breast augmentation through the belly button

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The breast augmentation procedure you refer to is known as TUBA - TransUmbilical Breast Augmentation. This is a procedure that gained great popularity in the past because the potential for minimal scars in breast augmentation. However, many surgeons have abandoned the procedure due to its inconsistent results. The obvious problem with this procedure is in its inherent inaccuracy for surgery. Because the creation of the implant pocket is a precise procedure, the farther away you are, the more difficult it is to be precise. (Think of painting a picture with a 6 inch paintbrush versus a 6 foot paintbrush...). This leads to common problems with asymmetry and poor cosmetic outcomes. The standard incisions for breast augmentation under the breast or around the aerola are rarely troublesome. They also afford a more reliable cosmetic outcome. I would recommend not compromising the results of the breast augmentation (the reason for surgery) for the minor improvement in scarring.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Belly Button Breast Augmentation Options and Risks

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There are many techniques available to augment the female breast.  Incisions vary in terms of their long term scarring.  To surgeons, incision placement allows for safe and efficient dissection of the anatomic area involved.  Often, it is difficult to meticulously dissect the upper pole of the breast and lower pole of the breast through the transumbilical technique, leading to breasts that have upper or lower pole fullness with an unaesthetic appearance.  Further, silicone cannot be placed through the umbilicus.  

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Breast augmentation through the belly button is possible

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A breast augmentation through the belly button is also known as a trans umbilical breast augmentation. It is possible to perform the surgery in certain select patients. Patients appreciate the lack of incisions around their breast or torso. However, patients should understand that only saline implants may be used with this technique. Patients should also look closely at the manufacturers warranty as the warranty is often avoided with this technique.

To learn more about breast augmentation, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

Pat Pazmino, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

No detectable breast scars but high chance of lop-sided breasts

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By placing implants through the belly button you may avoid a scar on the breast however you tremendously increase the chance of the breasts appearing lop-sided and asymmetric due to poor implant placement.  Fixing it usually requires another surgery leaving a scar on the breast that you originally set out to avoid. Consider a transaxillary (thru the armpit) placement if you are absolutely adverse to against having a breast scar.

Adam Hamawy, MD
Princeton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Breast implant through the belly button-much ado about nothing.

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It is admirable to minimize the resulting scar from any operation.  However, scars from breast augmentation (regardless of the route) are almost never an issue after breast augmentation.  The TUBA (trans umbilical breast augmentation) is a tedious operation through a remote site that might possibly damage the implant.  And there is a scar in the navel.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.