Transumbilical breast augmentation, or TUBA, is one of the most challenging procedures in the field of cosmetic surgery. It involves inserting a tube into the bellybutton and through the abdominal fatty tissue to deliver an implant without breast scarring.
Some have argued that the procedure, which requires the use of an endoscopic camera, has an increased risk because the surgeon does not directly access the breasts. However, according to a review of 3,300 consecutive TUBA cases performed by Dr. Robert A. Shumway from 1994 to 2010, TUBA appears to be faster, safer, and more effective than other methods of breast augmentation.
All surgeries carry certain risks, but Dr. Shumway’s assertion that “TUBA is about as safe as breast augmentation can get” certainly seems to be borne out by the numbers. Here are the postoperative issues and complaints encountered by Dr. Shumway after 17 years and 3,300 TUBA patients:
- Capsular contracture, which occurred in 69 cases, was the most common complaint. At 2.09%, this was much less than the national average for other augmentation methods.
- There was one possible infection, treated with an overnight antibiotic intravenous.
- There were no acute hematomas, and delayed hematomas occurred in less than 0.05% of cases. All were surgically treated and fully resolved.
- A few other complications had rates of incidence up to 0.18%, and included minor naval scars, breast asymmetry, and size dissatisfaction. These could be resolved with followup treatments.
- Two patients experienced implant extrusion, one because of a self-induced injury and the other due to unsanctioned postoperative medication and underwire bra use.
The doctor recommends that TUBA patients tell their cosmetic surgeon about over-the-counter and prescription drug use, including those taken in the weeks before and after the surgery. He also recommends the tumescent anesthetic method for its safety and effectiveness, and strongly encourages ongoing postoperative care. Of course, the best way for patients to ensure their safety is to be careful in selecting a qualified and experienced surgeon with training in proven techniques.