Why Does Left Arm Remain Numb 8 Months After Breast Augmentation Revision Surgery?

I just completed my 3rd BA Revision surgery in L.A. after 2 unsuccessful surgeries in Thailand. My 2nd surgery was done in May 2010, and it was a horrible experience. The L.A. doctor fixed my implants, but did not care to address the other issues stemming from my 2nd surgery. I am numb in my upper left arm/arm pit area. It is really annoying, and drives me crazy when I have an itch. There is also a weird sensation when I touch the area. Whill this ever go away?

Doctor Answers (6)

Why does left arm remain numb 8 months after breast augmentation revision surgery?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! Numbness after any surgical procedure is expected for several weeks to months following. As the nerves to the area are traumatized and will then experience a temporary neuropraxia, a transient loss of nerve conduction. This usually resolves over the next 6-12 weeks, but depending on the procedure performed, sometimes much longer. Typically this should resolve by 1 year. As it goes past this date, the likelihood of the sensation returning is small. However, it can take up to 2 years. If no return from there, it is unlikely to return. It should be discussed that persistent sensory changes may develop following any surgical procedure.  At this far out from your procedure, the sensation will unlikely return.  My only thought is if you had an axillary incision, that the nerve to the area, which runs through your armpit was inadvertently transected. 

The usual signs of the nerves regenerating and neuropraxia resolving is itching, followed by a burning sensation and then occasional sharp, shock-like pains. These will be normal to experience, and actually a promising sign. Usually, normal sensation returns, but is is also possible to have decreased sensation or even increased sensation to the areas affected. Re-educating nerves postoperatively is often helpful and will allow proper instruction for the affected sensory nerves - methods include using different textures to the affected areas when showering, bathing, applying lotion, etc. If bothersome, there are some medications that may be helpful, including Neurontin for pain for hypersensitivity. You can try various textures such as washcloths, loofahs, cotton sheets, etc. Massaging the areas is also beneficial for the incision to make the finest scar possible. The last place to regain the sensation will be directly adjacent to the incision/scar as the nerves will make its way from the periphery to this location. If continual pain arises, evaluation is warranted. After ruling out other causes, one rare explanation may be that a neuroma has developed and may require surgical excision. This is very unlikely unless a large sensory nerve has been transected inadvertently during the procedure. Hope that this helps! Best wishes!


Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Arm numbness

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Did you have a transaxillary approach at any time?  SOmetimes the nerve to this area of the arm is injured by stretching or even cutting and can lead to numbness.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Arm Numbness afte Surgery

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Why Does Left Arm Remain Numb 8 Months After Breast Augmentation Revision Surgery?
I just completed my 3rd BA Revision surgery in L.A. after 2 unsuccessful surgeries in Thailand. My 2nd surgery was done in May 2010, and it was a horrible experience. The L.A. doctor fixed my implants, but did not care to address the other issues stemming from my 2nd surgery. I am numb in my upper left arm/arm pit area. It is really annoying, and drives me crazy when I have an itch. There is also a weird sensation when I touch the area. Whill this ever go away?

It sounds like the intercostobrachial nerve was damaged some how.  If it does not regain its function in about 12 months then it is unlikely going to.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 31 reviews

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Know your surgeon's history before going overseas for cheaper surgeries.

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Unfortuately, it is unlikely at this point in time that you will regain any more sensation. I have a had a few patients who report improved sensation from a second procedure but that is exceedingly rare.

That is sometimes the problem with going overseas for surgery.  Did you know the history of this surgeon?  It is possible you have nerve damage.  Since you have had three surgeries, you have to give it some time.  Implant removal and replacement will not address any nerve issues.  Talk to your PS about possibly trying some therapies including massage, physical therapy, etc.

 

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Arm numbness

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It was probably impossible for your LA surgeon to correct your arm numbness as he would not be able to look for what your Thai surgeon injured. The numbness coukd be the result of something the Thai surgeon did, or from the position they had you lying in during the surgery.

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 135 reviews

Left Arm Numbness may be due to injury to intercostobrachial nerves, other factors

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Rarely, some patient may have upper inner arm numbness after breast augmentation surgery.  It may be more common with an underarm incision, as opposed to a  breast fold or areolar incision.  Basically, the intercostobrachial nerves may have stretched, or swelling may have compressed them, which may cause short term or long term numbness in your upper and inner arm.

 

Even without an underarm incision, some of the nerves may be damaged with compression or surgery i the chest wall area.  This would correspond to the underarm area.

 

The treatment of the area is usually time, and making sure your swelling goes down.  If this doesn't do the trick, then desensitization therapy, massage, and other modalities may help.  You should consider talking to your plastic surgeon that did the surgery to figure out what to do, given that it's been 8 months since your procedure.

 

Thanks for the great question, and I wish you the best of luck in getting rid of your numbness.

Roy Kim, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 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.