Do the lymphatic channels and nerves regenerate at the same rate after a tummy tuck? Is there a connection between these two? I have swelling 3 months post op but some of the feeling has returned to the site so that I have much less numbness. I'm wondering if the return of sensation is any indication of the progress of lymph system re-establishment? Thanks for your help!
Lymphatic Drainage and Numbness After Tummy Tuck?
Doctor Answers 6
Sensory return and lymphatic establishment are independent of each other.
The return of sensation and the restoration of lymphatic channels are totally separate processes that are not interrelated. Lymphatic drainage and compression garments are helpful to improve postoperative swelling.
Return of sensation and resolution of Swelling after Tummy Tuck
There are not any scientific studies that document the return of sensation and resolution of swelling after tummy tuck surgery. The short answer is that we do not know . I can tell you that from my experience if my patients are in excellent health before surgery and they undergo Manual Lymphatic drainage with a therapist for 4-6 weeks after surgery most of the swelling and sensation returns by 12-24 weeks. I also rrecommend supplements including Vitamin B complex to hasten the recovery.
Lymphatic drainage and numbness after tummy tuck?
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!
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Having swelling and numbness in the lower abdomen is a normal side effect of a tummy tuck. The length of time for resolution of these side effects differs from patient to patient. Lymphatic vessels, which help to carry away edema fluid, are reestablished in 3-5 weeks after surgery. Generally patients with thicker fat layers take longer than thinner patients to resolve the swelling. Sometimes the sensation never completely returns. This dosn't bother the patients because they are so happy with their new contours that it a small price to pay. Wearing moderate compression garments such Spanks or Flexies helps a great deal. Avoiding salty foods, msg and processed foods also helps.