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Is There Anyway to Help Heal the Numbness After a Tummy Tuck? Its Been Almost 5 Years.

I am suffering with itching down my lower abdomen since my tummy tuck. But my skin is numb and I cant get to the itch. It makes me almost have a panic attack. It is a helpless feeling. Is there anything that can repair nerves? I should have had a mini and not a full tummy tuck. Now I have to suffer the rest of my life. Is this normal?

Doctor Answers (5)

Is there any way to help heal the numbness after a tummy tuck? It's been almost 5 years.

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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 11 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

Some numbness of skin after tummy tuck is normal.

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Hi.

Your symptoms are very unusual because they are so severe and long lasting.  Unfortunately, the numbness by this time is permanent.  But the itching sensation may be helped with nerve blocks.  See a pain management specialist (they are usually anesthesiologists).

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

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Loss of Sensation After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

+1

I'm sorry to hear about the problem you are experiencing. Unfortunately, there is no surgical solution. It is also difficult to say whether additional sensation will return, given that you are already 5 years out of the procedure.

 Sorry, cannot be of more help. Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
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Anesthetic areas five years after a tummy tuck are probably permanent.

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An area of numbness five years after a tummy tuck will probably be that way indefinitely. There's no operation to restore sensibility.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
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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.