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Possible to Undo Muscle Plication After Tummy Tuck?

My wife had a Tummy Tuck 6 months ago. Unknown to her she had muscle repair. She had a permanent stitch removed at week 5 due to pain above her belly button.

She is still in crippling pain just above her belly button. She stopped work and family life has been severely impacted. She's even afraid that she won't be able to have one child as a result of the pain. Can muscles be unplicated? I love her so much. Please Help!

Doctor Answers (4)

Should Tummy Tuck Muscle tightening be undome for severe Pain

+2

I agree with both Drs. Placik and Pollack. I have performed this operation several hundreds of times and I have never come across such symptoms.

It DOES sound like your wife may have EITHER an entrapment syndrome, a neuroma or an atypical pain syndrome.

In the process of tightening the rectus muscles and bringing them back to the midline, the fascia lining of the muscle is stitched together. The nerves supplying the rectus muscles are SEGMENTAL (they penetrate the side of the muscles every few inches) and are MOTOR (muscle moving) nerves NOT sensory nerves. The problem your wife complains about, on the other hand, is seen with sensory nerves which run in the fat ABOVE the muscle and are NOT normally caught in the plication suture.

Before undoing the repair needlessly only to find out that the pain persists, I would suggest that you may want her to see a Pain specialist. IF he/she can locate a single location where the pain starts and that pain can be numbed up - this is must likely a neuroma which is totally treatable. If on the other hand the pain cannot be reduced with a local block, it is more suggestive of an atypical pain which could be managed with certain medications.

Having a tummy tuck does NOT preclude your wife from having a baby. But - a pregnancy is likely to take away the flat tummy created by the operation. As such, plans for more children should have been discussed before the surgery.

Dr. P. Aldea


Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 61 reviews

Pain around belly button after tummy tuck

+2

Martin,

Your wife may have a nerve trapped in the stitch above the belly button resulting in a tangled nerve called a neuroma. If the location of the pain can be pinpointed at a single spot sometimes the neuroma can be injected with good success. Otherwise it is a little harder to acomplish but, yes, the permanent stitches can be removed as well. It can be a difficult problem to correct but since she has been suffereing with this for 6 months it sounds reasonable to try to be as aggressive as possible.

Robert B. Pollack, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Pain from muscle repair following a tummy tuck.

+2

Of course, it can be released but then you must accept the consequences of a "pot belly" like appearance.

Removing the stitch may not necessarily relieve the pain.

Even if you were to leave the stitch in place, your wife could proceed to have a child. I have had several patients become pregnant after undergoing a tummy tuck with muscle repair.

In many instances, I have seen patients complain of pain following a tummy tuck when they gain weight and stretch the muscle repair. Weight loss and time appear to resolve this pain.

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

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Pain syndrome after a tummy tuck

+1

What you are describing is extraordinarily rare.  As the other doctors have said it could be from many things including an entrapped nerve.  I would suggest a CT scan or MRI of the abdominal wall and then a re-expoation of the area looking for an abnormality. 

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 49 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.