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Burning Sensation Normal Weeks After Lipo and Tummy Tuck?

I'm 5 weeks post op with Tummy Tuck and Liposuction. Is it normal to feel like the inside of me is raw or burning? How long will it take it before it's safe to go without the compression garment on? Some days, when I feel as if the compression garment is rubbing me raw, I check my skin and all is fine. My back is really sore from the liposuction and I can still feel where the liposuction was inserted. Also, should I massage my skin more often in a day?

Doctor Answers (34)

Break the Cycle

+7

It is not unusual to have a burning sensation persisting several weeks after liposuction or tummy tuck. During the course of these procedures, the normal sensory nerves are stretched or otherwise traumatized, and during the healing process there is inflammation around the nerves that may create abnormal sensations such as "raw" and "burning" pain, even in response to normal stimuli. These "Dysesthesias" may be worse if ultrasonic liposuction was used during your procedure.

Many patients benefit from a de-sensitization routine of over-stimulating the areas which feel painful or raw. This seems to re-set the body's "thermostat" or sense of what is (or should be) normal vs. what is painful. Some patients may benefit from low-dose non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (Motrin, Advil, Ibuprofen, etc.), as well as local measures such as cold compresses, in addition to massage of the skin which helps to relieve the lymphatic swelling.


Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

It is normal to have mild numbness and tingling after liposuction.

+6

It is normal to have mild numbness and tingling after liposuction. This will progressively improve as time passes. During the liposuction, the tumescent and liposuction cause stretching of the tiny sensory nerves. During the abdominoplasty, some sensory nerves are cut. Over several weeks to months, these nerves are healing and cause numbness, tingling and itching sensations. Don't worry, this will resolve. It is important to make sure that your garment is not too tight and causing more problems than it is worth. If the garment is bothering you, stop wearing it. If you have already been wearing it for five weeks, it has served it purpose. It will not make any difference in the long term - especially after five weeks. I find that many patients continue to wear the garment for comfort, but if it is uncomfortable, then stop wearing it. Massaging your skin is good to do a few times a day.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

These symptoms can be normal after Tummy Tuck

+5

Most patients experience what you described, burning, itching, or tightness after having a tummy tuck. They are a very common occurence post-operatively and can last up to 6 months. These feeling are usually a normal result of your nerves repairing themselves after surgery. Massaging the areas with a gentle lotion can sometimes help with comfort . Our patients are also given a very light compression garment ,which at five weeks post op is not necessary to wear, but many patients have told me the garment can lessen the burning and tightening sensations. A quick call to your surgeon for evaluation can help answer your question too!

Gregory Turowski, MD, PhD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

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Irritated nerves causing pain after lipo and tummy tuck surgery

+4

Burning pain or hypersensitivity after liposuction or a tummy tuck can occur, and can be quite bothersome. In liposuction areas, as swelling and edema resolves, the sensations tend to go away. In the case of the tummy tuck, some nerve endings were divided during the surgery, and others stretched.

The stretched nerves will feel better as they relax at their new length, and the others will try to heal into nerve conduits or just soft tissue. Massage is useful to help "desensitize" these regions - but be sure to use a moisturizer not to damage your skin. You might try some OTC B vitamins, as these help with nerve regeneration.

Michael A. Bogdan, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Burning sensation after Tummy Tuck or Liposuction is normal

+4

As the other respondees have indicated, these types of sensations are very normal after either abdominoplasty or liposuction. Irritation or disruption of the nerves is certain to occur to some extent after these procedures, and lingering effects can be seen for 12-18 months.

Unlike others, I've seen very disappointing results from the use of Neurontin. In this situation in particular, patients are more bothered by the side effects of the medication than they are from the primary symptoms.

You'll get better. Hang in there!

Brian K. Brzowski, MD
Ogden Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Pain after tummy tuck: Give it time but check it out

+4

What you decsribe is very normal and in all likelihood will resolve.

This is commonly referred to as dysesthesias and is common after nerves are bruised or "insulted".

Think about how your leg feels after it falls asleep and goes numb. When it wakes up, you feel that pins and needles tingling sensation. Sometimes it can be quite painful but it goes away.

This happens after liposuction as well. My patients often complain of more pain in the hips and flanks (liposuction treated areas) rather than the tummy where most of the surgery is performed. I have found that, in my opinion only, this is worse after using ultrasonic liposuction bu this is a personal observation and not widely held by other plastic surgeons.

When this in other areas, such as the hand/fingers after surgery, we typically prescribe desensitization therapy which is essentially a controlled regimen of massage and exposure to increasingly more noxious stimuli.

The interpretation of this is that in your condition, I would highly recommend massaging the area several times a day. It may take up to 3 months for this to resolve completely but try to be patient. In the meantime consult your surgeon to make sure nothing else is wrong. Rarely, I have found the use of Lyrica ( a drug for dysesthesias in the lower legs of diabetic patients to be beneficial); however, this is an off-label use.

I hope this helps!

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 48 reviews

Be proactive

+4

Any pain after the immediate postop period deserves attention. Usually massage or ultrasound treatments help, and can usually stop the pain cycle before it gets out of hand. Occasionally medications such as Neurontin are necessary. In any event, communicate closely with your doctor.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 100 reviews

Skin Hypersensitivity is Very Normal Following Abdominoplasty & Liposuction

+3

Patients who undergo abdominoplasty and liposuction often complain of pain, swelling and skin hypersensitivity.  These are normal findings immediately following surgery, and usually resolve with time.  The hypersensitivity that you describe is known as a dysesthesia.  It’s very similar to what happens when your leg falls asleep.  This phenomena occurs when nerves are compressed, stretched or traumatized.  During and after these procedures the nerves are stretched and compressed.  In many cases, this is made worse by swelling.
Patients typically describe a tingling, burning sensation that can be very uncomfortable.  In many cases, clothing rubbing against the skin can elicit a burning sensation.
These symptoms usually resolve in six to eight weeks without intervention.  In some cases, aggressive massage can desensitize the area and minimize the pain and discomfort associated with this condition.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Burning sensation after Tummy Tuck or Liposuction can be normal

+3

The sensation you describe can be normal after a tummy tuck and liposuction. You are still in the healing phase and your nerves will be recovering from the surgery. The massaging will help alleviate your symptoms. Typically most patients wear a compression garment or binder for about 6wks. Some may benefit from it longer - 8wks or so. As long as it feels good and protective you can wear it. As the senstation on your abdomen returns to normal you may have these symptoms. Hydrating your skin with a good moisturizer can also be helpful. I would also recommend discussing your concerns with your surgeon.

Bahram Ghaderi, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

It can be normal to have those sensations

+3

It is normal to have numbness and even sometimes the sensation of burning after either the abdominoplasty or liposuction. As the sensory nerves recover over the next month or two it should slowly resolve. It is expected thought to have some numbness in the lower abdomen between the belly button and scar for many months.

Many patients report relief from the use of over the counter anti-inflamatories like advil. Sometimes massage will also help.

John E. Gross, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.