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Lymphatic Drainage and Numbness After Tummy Tuck?

Do the lymphatic channels and nerves regenerate at the same rate after a tummy tuck? Is there a connection between these two? I have swelling 3 months post op but some of the feeling has returned to the site so that I have much less numbness. I'm wondering if the return of sensation is any indication of the progress of lymph system re-establishment? Thanks for your help!

Doctor Answers (6)

Sensory return and lymphatic establishment are independent of each other.

+2

The return of sensation and the restoration of lymphatic channels are totally separate processes that are not interrelated. Lymphatic drainage and compression garments are helpful to improve postoperative swelling.


Boca Raton Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Lymphatic drainage and numbness after tummy tuck?

+1
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!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Numbness and swelling after tummy tuck

+1
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 28 reviews

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Numbness post tummy

+1

There will always be some numbness and swelling above the incision which will take time.Heat and massage can help get rid of the swelling.the return of sensation can take months.

Robert Brueck, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
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Lymphatic Drainage and Numbness following Tummy Tuck

+1

Having swelling and numbness in the lower abdomen is a normal side effect of a tummy tuck.  The length of time for resolution of these side effects differs from patient to patient.  Lymphatic vessels, which help to carry away edema fluid,  are reestablished in 3-5 weeks after surgery.  Generally patients with thicker fat layers take longer than thinner patients to resolve the swelling.  Sometimes the sensation never completely returns.  This dosn't bother the patients because they are so happy with their new contours that it a small price to pay.  Wearing moderate compression garments such Spanks or Flexies helps a great deal.  Avoiding salty foods, msg and processed foods also helps.

Daniel H. Kane, MD
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Return of sensation and resolution of Swelling after Tummy Tuck

+1

There are not any scientific studies that document the return of sensation and resolution of swelling after tummy tuck surgery. The short answer is that we do not know . I can tell you that from my experience if my patients are in excellent health before surgery and they undergo Manual Lymphatic drainage with a therapist for 4-6 weeks after surgery most of the swelling and sensation returns by 12-24 weeks. I also rrecommend supplements including Vitamin B complex to hasten the recovery.

Laurie Casas, MD
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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.