What Can I Do About Long-term Tummy Tuck Scar Pain?

I had a full tummy tuck 17 months ago. I still have to wear a compression garments all day and I take them off about 2 hours before bed. I stand and walk all day at work as a Retail Manager. I returned to work day 10 after my surgery, and it was really hard, but I forced myself up and at it.

I had swelling for almost the first year after surgery. Swelling now seems to be almost eliminated but I still have a severe burning and pulling sensation right on the thickest part of my scar (the center 3-4") Is this normal? Will massage help? I have been trying massage the last 3-4 weeks. It seems like it is helping a little. Any suggestions?

Doctor Answers 8

Management of long-term tummy tuck scar pain

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Tummy tucks are a popular and very effective way to contour the abdomen. Patients who undergo this procedure should anticipate a recovery process may last 6 to 8 months. If you continue to have pain in your tummy tucks are 17 months after your surgery, you should be evaluated by your surgeon. It is possible that you may have an area of the scar that is very thick and irritating underlying tissue. It is also possible that a small amount of nerve tissue may have grown into the scar and is causing this discomfort. Either way you may be a very good candidate for a scar revision at this site.

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Abdominoplasty scar pain

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Thanks for the question.

It is unusual to need a compression garment after 8 weeks.

Scar pain can be caused from a number of issues including abnormal healing from the scarring (keloid or hypertrophic scars), injury to cutaneous nerves in the area, or other issues.

Treatment at this point can include:

1. steroid injection - this can be particularly helpful in cases of hypertrophic scars or cutaneous nerve injury. Risks include atrophy or hypopigmentation in the injected area.

2. scar revision - this may help the pain and the appearance of the scar (if this is a problem) but it may also not help your pain and you have to deal with healing another surgery. The pulling sensation you describe may be an area of scar tissue or a deep suture that can be released with this method.

Massage may help but you may be more likely to get improvement with the treatments above.

Speak to your plastic surgeon in depth about your concerns.

I hope this helps.

Not typical a year after Tummy Tuck

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What you are describing is not the typical thing we would see over a year after surgery.  I would follow up with your doc and get a physical exam. If he notices anything unusual, he may want to perform an imaging study such as a CT scan, but start with the physical exam. 

Good luck,

Dr. S

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 155 reviews

This is not typical

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This is not typical more than a few months after surgery. Have you been back to see your surgeon? Massage may help, but this far out from surgery, I really doubt it. Does the scar look okay? Is it raised (hypertrophic) or wide? Do you feel any fullness under that area? If you post a picture, we may be able to give you more advice, but I think you really need to go in for a physical examination. Good luck.

See your surgeon

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It is unusual to still require your compression garment and experience burning. Massage may help, but please see your surgeon for a physical examination of your concern. Your scar may require surgical revision.

Painful tummy tuck scar

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IT sounds as if you are experiencing a hypertrophic or keloid scar. Quite frequently this will respond to steroid injections with relief of pain in 2-3 days. Consult with your surgeon about this option.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

You may need Tummy Tuck scar revision

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I am not sure why you are still wearing a compression garment 17 months after surgery. I usually recommend 3-6 weeks post -surgical only. In terms of your scar, it would be hard to tell what you may have or need without seeing you. If the scar is raised and firm, usually by 17 months, the scar has completely matured. If there is a lot of tension on the scar, it could still possibly be maturing. On the other hand, you may need a scar revision, or steroid injections, or possibly other alternatives. An exam to evaluate it is key.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Tummy Tuck scar may be hypertrophic or keloid

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17 months after Tummy Tuck is a long time. You might have a hypertrophic scar or keloid. You need a clinical exam to determine why you still have these symptoms. I would recommend a follow-up with your surgeon.

Hisham Seify, MD, PhD, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 19 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.