What You Need to Know About TUBA Incisions

Reviewed by and by Michael Olding, MD, FACS

A TUBA incision (belly button, navel, or transumbilical incision) is one type of incision used in the placement of implants for breast augmentation. The TUBA incision is made on the rim of the navel.

Breast Anatomy Relative to the Transumbilical Incision

The breast comprises a complex group of tissues, including glandular, fatty, and fibrous tissues. The breast is positioned over the pectoral muscles of the chest, with a layer of loose tissue immediately behind the breast.

How is the TUBA Incision Performed?

The TUBA incision is made on the rim of the navel. A tunnel is then made under the skin through the subcutaneous fat layer. An endoscope can be used to create the tunnel and to provide visibility to the surgeon. An endoscope is a thin tube with a camera and surgical light embedded on the end. The tunnel reaches all the way behind the breast into the layer of loose tissue between the breast and pectoral muscles. After a pocket is created in the breast, the implant is inserted through the incision and moved up into the breast area. The implant is then centered behind the nipple.

Advantages of the TUBA Incision

One advantage of the TUBA incision, like the transaxillary incision, is that there are no incisions or scars in the breast area. This incision can be used to place breast implants in any of the three positions:

Special Considerations for the TUBA Incision

Compared to the peri-areola and inframammary incisions where the incisions are in the immediate breast area, the surgeon is working away from the breast. This distance makes it more complex for the surgeon to complete the surgery, to do any necessary reshaping, with a decreased ability to control bleeding. This incision type has limits in the area of the breast that require reshaping and beautification.

Although it is tempting to select a plastic surgery procedure based solely on the level of scarring in the breast area, remember that achieving an ideal breast shape and form is critical in breast augmentation procedures.

Consult a Surgeon

Each individual's situation is unique, and this incision may or may not be the best one for you. Be sure to discuss the advantages of each incision option with a board-certified plastic surgeon.

About the Reviewer of This Article

Michael Olding, MD, FACS, of Washington, D.C. is board-certified in plastic and reconstructive surgery by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the Northeastern Society of Plastic Surgery and the National Capital Society of Plastic Surgeons, where he was elected president. Dr. Olding specializes in cosmetic plastic surgery procedures and clinically related activities in cosmetic surgery, cosmetic facial surgery, breast augmentation and reduction, rhinoplasty, body contouring, liposuction and melanoma. He is also one of the area experts on soft-tissue fillers (Restylane, Sculptra and Botox). He received his doctorate in medicine from the University of Kentucky in 1980 and completed his internship at Cornell Medical Center. He completed his fellowship in plastic and reconstructive surgery at McGill University in Montreal. Dr. Olding maintains hospital staff privileges at George Washington University Medical Center, Sibley Hospital and Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C. More about Dr. Michael Olding