Implants Placed through the Armpit

When it comes to breast augmentation with the team at UMass Memorial, you’ll have a series of decisions to make. One of those is where you’d like the incisions to be made for the placement of your implants. The choices are along the breast crease (inframammary incision), around the areola (areolar incision), or through the armpit (transaxillary incision).

In this blog, let’s go through what’s involved with the transaxillary method for breast augmentation.

What is transaxillary breast augmentation?

If a patient has opted for the transaxillary method, that means your UMass Memorial plastic surgeon will place the implants through incisions made in the armpit. This incision location has both pluses and minuses.

The incision is made vertically in the armpit in the natural crease. Your surgeon then inserts an endoscope, a narrow fiber-optic camera through the incision. This provides visuals of the anatomical structures and guides him/her throughout the procedure. This makes for much more precise implant positioning than with surgeons who do not use an endoscope in transaxillary augmentation. At this point, either the unfilled saline implant or the silicone implant is inserted through the incision and placed into the pocket created to hold the implant. Saline implants are filled in place, and then are checked for size and position. The fill tube is then removed, and the implant automatically seals itself. The tube is withdrawn and the incision in the armpit closed. With silicone implants, we check position and symmetry and then close the incision. Once the first breast is finished, we move to the other side.

What are the advantages of this incision?

The main advantage of the transaxillary incision is that it does not create any scarring on the breasts. Because the incisions are made in both armpits and are made vertically in the natural crease, they become barely noticeable. This is quite a contrast to implants placed through the breast crease at the bottom of the breast, which creates a noticeable scar. This can be very important for patients with darker skin tones, as their scarring will likely be somewhat more visible going forward. Also, since we don’t have to cut the chest muscle or any breast tissue, recovery from this incision location is easier for most patients.

What are the disadvantages of this incision?

In most cases, only saline or smaller-sized silicone implants can be placed through the armpit incision. For some surgeons, the placement of the implants through the transaxillary incision can be more difficult due to the distance from the incision to the location of the breast pocket. Our surgeons have extensive experience with this incision location, however, and we don’t run into trouble with asymmetry or other placement problems.

During your consultation, your UMass Memorial surgeon will discuss the pros and cons of various aspects of breast augmentation, including the transaxillary incision. If you’re considering augmentation, give us call at (508) 334-5990 to set up a consultation.

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