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Sudden Numbness 3 Weeks Post Op After Tummy Tuck- Normal?

after my tummy tuck i had numbness at stitch site and a bit above that, now i am 3 weeks post op and the numbness has spread up to my belly button. I just had drains removed 1 day ago. Is this normal...just afraid of fluid collecting. I am prone to water retention so I am worried about fluid collecting now that drains are gone. Also is drinking alcohol a bad idea? I drink water all day long and have stopped my pain meds but donnot want to add to any swelling.

Doctor Answers (5)

Sudden numbness 3 weeks postop after tummy tuck - normal?

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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 after 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 27 reviews

Numbness after tummy tuck

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While performing a tummy tuck some sensory nerves are unavoidably severed.  Thus, there can potentially be some areas of numbness on your tummy.  Most of this resolves over time but some numbness may be permanent. It is highly unlikely that any nerves that are motor in nature have been severed during a tummy tuck.  You should follow up with your plastic surgeon and relay your concerns to him or her.

Raj S. Ambay, MD
Tampa Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 15 reviews

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Numbness and Tummy Tuck?

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Thank you for the question.

All of my patients who have undergone tummy tuck surgery experience “numbness” along the majority of the abdominal wall ( from pubic bone up to rib cage); this numbness can last up to several years.  This numbness is to be expected given that the small nerves and blood vessels have been divided during the tummy tuck surgery.

It is very likely that you are recently noticing the numbness,  that has been present since your surgery.

Continue to follow up with your plastic surgeon with specific questions and concerns.

Best wishes.

 

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 726 reviews

Numbness after Tummy Tuck

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The vast majority of women undergoing a Tummy Tuck, similar to those having a C Section, have a large numb area above their scar. The area of numbness is maximal after surgery but it narrows over the following 10-12months. It is NOT normal for a previously normally sensate area to suddenly become numb weeks after surgery. Are you sure this area was not numb after surgery? You should discuss this with your surgeon.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 61 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.