The needle placement accuracy of millimeters is required in many needle-based surgeries. The tissue deformation, especially that occurring on the surface of organ tissue, affects the needle-targeting accuracy of both manual and robotic needle insertions. It is necessary to understand the mechanism of tissue deformation during needle insertion into soft tissue. In this paper, soft tissue surface deformation is investigated on the basis of continuum mechanics, where a geometry model is presented to quantitatively approximate the volume of tissue deformation. The energy-based method is presented to the dynamic process of needle insertion into soft tissue based on continuum mechanics, and the volume of the cone is exploited to quantitatively approximate the deformation on the surface of soft tissue. The external work is converted into potential, kinetic, dissipated, and strain energies during the dynamic rigid needle-tissue interactive process. The needle insertion experimental setup, consisting of a linear actuator, force sensor, needle, tissue container, and a light, is constructed while an image-based method for measuring the depth and radius of the soft tissue surface deformations is introduced to obtain the experimental data. The relationship between the changed volume of tissue deformation and the insertion parameters is created based on the law of conservation of energy, with the volume of tissue deformation having been obtained using image-based measurements. The experiments are performed on phantom specimens, and an energy-based analytical fitted model is presented to estimate the volume of tissue deformation. The experimental results show that the energy-based analytical fitted model can predict the volume of soft tissue deformation, and the root mean squared errors of the fitting model and experimental data are 0.61 and 0.25 at the velocities 2.50 mm/s and 5.00 mm/s. The estimating parameters of the soft tissue surface deformations are proven to be useful for compensating the needle-targeting error in the rigid needle insertion procedure, especially for percutaneous needle insertion into organs.