Intense Burning Pain in Thigh After Full Tummy Tuck & Liposuction to Abs - Normal?

I am 10 days post-op after a full TT with MR & lipo to abs and upper thighs. Over last 2-3 days, I have experienced severe, excrutiating burning pain in my right thigh (from knee to hip). It is so painful and can come unexpectedly. My PS prescribed capsaicin cream and antidepressants (don't know why). I am using nurofen and the cream only. How long does this pain last and do you have any advice?

Doctor Answers 5

Your pain sounds like meralgia parasthetica

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There is a nerve near you hip bone called the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve that can be injured during a TT.  The nerve may be compressed by the tight skin or garment (binder), a suture and/or swelling.  This will cause tingling, burning pain and numbness on the front and side of your thigh.  The fact that you are having the pain would indicate the nerve is intact and wasn't cut.  Anti-inflammatories are the place to start.  I have seen this only a few times in 21 years.  I injected the area around the nerve near the hip with a local anesthetic plus steroids much as orthopedists do for joint inflammation.  There is also oral steroids (Medrol dose pack) or plain old ibuprofen ( I give 600 mg four times a day but never before 10 days post-op).  The measures you are using are not enouigh for such severe pain.  Anti-deppressants (Cymbalta especially) can decrease nerve pain which is probably why your surgeon prescribed it.  Other drugs that can help with nerve pain are Elavil, Neurtontin and more recently Lyrica (works well, but expensive).  Talk to your surgeon about using something stronger.  The injection usually works right away and can be followed up with oral medications.  One time only I had to repeat the injection after a few weeks.  In rare cases (I have never had this happen) the pain persists and becomes chronic.  In this case you may need surgery to either free the nerve or cut it.  There is every reason to expect recovery.  See your surgeon soon about this.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Pain after surgery

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Pain after surgery is normal, however excruciating burning pain in one specific area is concerning.  Sometimes medication specific for nerve pain can be helpful.  A nerve that provides sensation to the anterior thigh can sometimes be injured during a tummy tuck and can cause this pain.

Martin Jugenburg, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 517 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
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Pain after TT and Lipo (nerve injury?)

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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.  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 relate your concerns to him or her.

Burning pain in thigh

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Excruciating burning pain in a specific area describes nerve pain and may be due to nerve injury.  There are specific medications for nerve pain which can help.  

Lawrence C. Lin, MD
Long Island 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.