Palpable Lumps Where Tunneling Was Done for TUBA

I am now about a month post-op and I can feel tender lumps where the tunneling was done for my TUBA procedure. My PS told me to massage them in order to make them go down. I have been massaging them and initially it seems to help but the next morning the lumps are back. They are more palpable on my left abdominal wall then on my right. There have been no other problems and absolutely no other pain. The procedure seems to be a success other than these lumps. Is this normal? Should I be worried?

Doctor Answers 6

TUBA Tunneling firmness normal

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I have been using the TUBA technique as a method of choice for more than a decade for Saline Breast Augmentation and it is common to occasionally have some firm areas where the tunnels were made to make the pocket and place your implants. I agree with your surgeon that over time the lumps will slowly go away and massage helps Glad you had a good result - Congrats.

TUBA procedure and problems

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The lumps you are feeling is scar tissue along where the instrument was placed to make the pocket for your implants with the TBA procedure. These should resolve with time. Masaging will do little. I suggest leaving them alone or maybe putting paper tape over them. If they still don't go away by then, then I would possibly inject with dilute cortisone. 

Tuba tunnel lumps

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It is difficult to say what the lumps are int he tunnels. It may represent fat necrosis or fluid accumulation. I would follow closely with your surgeon and more than likely they will resolve over time.

Lumps after TUBA.

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It is difficult to say with certainty what these lumps are that you are feeling. They can be small hematomas (collections of blood), fat necrosis (firm areas of dead fat), or small fluid collections. In most cases, simple massage and time will well all of these conditions. I recommend staying in contact with your surgeon and following his instructions.

David Bogue, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Abdominal lumps after TUBA procedure

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I have seen this before and it turned out it was some clotted blood in the tunnel. It may resolve on its own with time. My patient came to me after surgery elsewhere and we were able to completely resolve the issue within a few weeks using endermology (a mechanical deep tissue massage). i suggest you try that.

Aaron Stone, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Palpable lumps in TUBA tunnels 1 month post-op.

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I am glad you have had a good result other than these troubling lumps in the TUBA tunnels from the belly button to each breast. At one month, this could be fluid, and the coming and going of these lumps may be evidence that this is the case. If so, massage may best be discontinued. But you have obviously talked with or were seen in recheck by your surgeon, so this may simply be small areas of scarring and swelling that will take several months to completely settle. (Gentle) massage may well help this resolve somewhat faster than leaving it alone. Persistent scar fibrosis lumps may be softened or reduced in bulk by cautious and conservative steroid injection, per your surgeon's recommendation. In the absence of any symptoms with your breasts themselves, these two tunnels are the lowest area (by gravity) where fluid or swelling can accumulate, so this is not overly unusual or worrisome.

For those who do not recognize this acronym, TUBA stands for Trans Umbilical Breast Augmentation, which involves the use of an endoscope inserted through a belly button incision, tunneled through the subcutaneous fat from the umbilicus to the breasts (2 tunnels), creation of a pocket for the implants, placement of deflated, rolled-up saline implants through the tunnels to their respective pockets, and inflation to the desired size. This is the least-controllable way of inserting breast implants, in my opinion, but can yield good results without a scar on the breasts if done by an expert in this technique.

I do believe that of all of the four commonly-used incisional approaches for breast augmentation, TUBA is the one with the highest variability in results, the highest malposition rate, and perhaps the highest re-operation rate, though this is highly surgeon-dependent. Re-operation for most reasons will require an incision on the breast or in the breast crease, which is why most surgeons use these incision approaches initially--re-operation will not require a different additional incision and scar (which was the whole idea in the first place).

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.