Numbness After Scalp Injury

I injured my scalp a little over a month ago. It was cut to the bone from about 1 inch above one ear across the top to 2 inches above the other ear. I received 17 staples to close the deep laceration. After 11 days, staples were removed. The doctors said I was healing fine. My concern is that I still have numbness and even though its not painful, the top of my scalp seems to be swollen. Should i be concerned or is more healing time needed? No new pictures, difficult to see swelling in photos

Doctor Answers (3)

Numbness after scalp injury?

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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 of scalp

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Numbness of the scalp is due to the sensory nerves being severed by the trauma.  Usually overtime this improves but it may take a year or longer.

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

Numbness is not uncommon after scalp injury

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The numbness that you feel will contribute to a feeling of swelling in the area that is numb, regardless if you actually have any swelling. In addition, because much of the sensation across the top of the scalp is supplied by sensory nerves that run from the level of your eyebrows up and over your head, a deep cut will likely injure them and cause numbness behind the cut. 

Sensation may return to this area over the course of weeks to months. Often, when sensation first begins to return, you will have a feeling of "pins and needles," much like an arm or leg that has "fallen asleep" after having its circulation cut off and then is "waking up."

The doctors who repaired your laceration should be able to discuss your concerns with you in detail. I hope this general information helps, however!

Jen Yuan Chow, MD
Pasadena Facial Plastic Surgeon

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.