How Long is Loss of Sensation Normal After a Tummy Tuck?

about 3 1/2 years ago i had a tummy tuck i have no feeling in my abs at all. And for some odd reason i still look as if i did before i had the surgery. i am tired of telling people i guess iam still swollen. what should i do.

Doctor Answers (6)

How long is loss of sensation normal after a tummy tuck?

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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.

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

Numbness and Swelling post tummy tuck

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Thank you for your post. In a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty surgery, the tissue above the abdominal muscles is lifted off of the muscles from the lower scar to the ribs in a full tummy tuck and to the umbilicus in a mini tummy tuck. The superficial nerves that travel through the muscle to the skin are cut in order to do this. This is what causes the numbness afterward. The numbness usually extends in the entire area that was lifted up. On occasion, a superficial nerve to the thigh could be pulled causing numbness in this area as well. Swelling happens after surgery and also tends to be in the entire area that has been lifted up and any area that has received liposuction. Both numbness and swelling may take months to years to go away, and the last place for both to go away is the area right above the incision centrally, and sometimes right below the belly button. It may take up to 2 years to get to baseline sensation. sometimes, certain areas never feel totally normal, especially the area right above the incision centrally. If tingling or itchiness develop, that is a sign that the nerves are growing back. This is normally well tolerated, but occasionally, a nerve type pain medication is needed such as neurontin.
Best Wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Numbness of tummy tuck skin

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After 3 years, I doubt that you will have any further improvments in return of sensation to the area.

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

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Duration of Loss of Sensation after a Tummy Tuck

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Speak to all of your friends of had C Sections about loss of sensation. Every one of them would tell you she is STILL numb just above the scar in the mid line. With a Tummy Tuck scar being longer and the operation being much more extensive, the price of a flat tummy with a tummy tuck is ALSO permanent numbness in the midline just above the scar.

As regards the statement on not being able to see a difference, I would go back and re-acquaint yourself with your Before and After photos. Human nature is to forget what we looked like. Odds are that you did as well. If your AFTER was so disappointing WHY would you have waited 31/2 years to voice your disappointment?

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
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Sensation will return after tummy tuck in six to nine months

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After a full tummy tuck it is typical for the skin in the lower abdomen to have a numb sensation as some of the nerves to the skin are injured and stretched as the abdominal skin excess if corrected. During healing, the nerves and sensation will recover, usually by six to nine months. Patients who are aware ahead of time are prepared for the numbness and have few problems with the temporary change in sensation.

Best of luck,

peterejohnsonmd

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Still unhappy after tummy tuck

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If you are still unhappy, why not go back to your doctor and tell him.  Ask him if there is a reason why you feel this way.  Very often patients don't realize or forget the way they looked pre-op.  Take a look at your photos to see if there really is no difference.  You may have a thick abdominal wall that just requires some liposuction, but I will say all the swelling is gone by now. If there really is no difference - which I sincerely doubt- ask him why you did not get the result you anticipated and what can be done to improve it.  Good luck in your quest.

Steven Schuster, MD
Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
4.5 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.