Breast augmentation performed through the belly button is called trans-umbilical breast augmentation or TUBA. In this procedure an incision is made at the top border of the belly button. A hollow tube is then pushed through the fat layer under the skin from the belly button up to the bottom of the breast. Through this tube a space is created either under the breast tissue itself or under the muscle layer.
An inflatable temporary device attached to a long filling tube is then pushed through the hollow tube into the breast pocket. This device then expanded to help create the pocket. After the pocket is created an empty saline implant attached to a long fill tube is pushed through the hollow tube and placed in the pocket. The saline implant is then filled and the attached fill tube is then removed. The implant is designed so that it seals itself after the fill tube is removed from the valve in the implant.
The TUBA procedure remains controversial and is not widely recommended. Although seems ideal to minimize the visible scarring associated with breast enhancement the trade-offs are significant. With this procedure only saline implants can be utilized. The pocket is created bluntly from a remote location limiting the precision of pocket dissection. The precise creation of the ideal pocket for each patient is the key to the creation of an ideal breast shape.
Because of the limited precision in creation of the pocket the revision rate of this procedure is significantly higher than other procedures done under direct vision. When the pocket is created bluntly there is more chance for postoperative bleeding. Even a small amount of blood remaining in the pocket can cause future capsular contracture. Another potential problem with this procedure is scarring in the fat tissue through which the dissection tube is placed. This can leave a permanent mark extending from the belly button up to the breast. Most patients are selecting silicone implants and would prefer a technique which results in a more predictable outcome and less chance for need for future revisional surgery.
Most surgeons prefer the inframammary incision because the pocket can be made more precisely and greater control of bleeding is possible. Usually the scar heals very well and the results are more predictable.