What Measures Can I Take Pre and Post op to Prevent Sensitivity Loss After a Tummy Tuck?

I know that there is a risk of permanent sensitivity loss to abdomen after a tummy tuck. Firstly, what is the percentage risk of permanent nerve damage? While I know temporary sensitivity loss/nerve damage is unavoidable, are there any supplements/foods I can take/eat leading up to surgery to lower the risk? Also, what can I do in terms of post-op care to accelerate full nerve regrowth? Thank you.

Doctor Answers 13

Massage May Help...

As you mentioned, it's normal to have sensory changes below the belly button after tummy tucks but usually this is only a temporary phenomena.  Massaging the abdomen and flanks improves blood supply and your ultimate shape but it may also speed the recovery of sensation in the lower part of your abdominal wall.  Sensation should return to close to normal levels, it just takes several months or even longer.   

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

Loss of sensation after tummy tuck

Some sensory loss is likely after any kind of surgery but should go on to resolve over time. Regrowth of the nerves will not be stimulated by any post-op supplements that you take orally. It is all about recognizing that nerve regeneration takes time!

Robert L. Kraft, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Permanent Sensation Loss After Tummy Tuck Very Unusual

Permanent loss of sensation following a tummy tuck is uncommon; in fact, I cannot recall any patients with that complaint.  There really is nothing that you can do that would influence this one way or the other.  As you mention, temporary sensation loss is the norm.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Nerve Damage after Tummy Tuck

   The severing of cutaneous nerve endings is mandatory to remove skin.  As such some amount of numbness will the norm after surgery.  Over a 3 to 18 month period the nerves will begin a process of regeneration the results of which do not bother most people.  There are no preventative measures or postoperative measures take can be taken to reduce incidence or speed up healing.

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 496 reviews

Sensory loss after TT.

Many sensory nerves are divided during a tummy tuck, and some loss of feeling is the rule. Some return of feeling is expected in almost all patients, though not quite to normal.

There are no supplements, exercises, etc, that will hasten nerve recovery. There are techniques of abdominoplasty that use less "undermining" and therefore divide fewer nerve branches. This is something to discuss with your consulting surgeons.

When you ready for an in person consultation, RealSelf has listings of surgeons in your area. You should consider cross referencing the listings from the The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (plasticsurgery dot org). A listing in the ASPS website assures you that your surgeon is not only board certified,  but also is a member in good standing of the major plastic surgery organization in the U. S.

Thank you for your question, best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Sensory changes

The sensory changes after the tummy tuck are not permanent usually. With the passage of time the sensation will usually return

Norman Bakshandeh, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Tummy Tuck Skin Numbness

Hi jahzara,

Numbness of the tummy skin after the typical tummy tuck procedure is "normal" and expected. During the procedure, some "feeling" (sensory) nerves are injured while working under the skin-fat layer of the tummy. Much of the feeling returns over a 6-18 month period (except to the skin just above the middle part of the TT incision).

There's nothing you can do before surgery to prevent numbness or after to accelerate nerve healing.

Thanks for your question.

Stephen M. Lazarus, MD
Knoxville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Some degree sensory loss after tummy tuck is unavoidable

The surgical process during the tummy tuck unavoidably results in some loss in sensation.  The sensation usually comes back over the course of 6 months.  If you ask patients a year after the surgery, usually they will say that normal sensation has returned.  There is, however, a residual loss of sensation which is likely permanent but not noticed by the patient.  It is impossible for all the nerves to grow back and be exactly as they were before the tummy tuck.  That being said, sensory loss is very unlikely to be a concern for you 6 months after the surgery.

Dev Wali, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Permanent Loss of Sensation After Tummy Tuck is Rare

Tummy tucks do cause temporary loss of sensation in the abdominal region due to the dissection technique.  This sensation returns to normal in the vast majority of situations unless there is some other risk of other neurological problems or diagnoses.  Unfortunately there isn't much that can be done to reduce the risk of this temporary loss as it is an anatomical issue not a functional issue.  Nutritional supplementation may help in recovery and is probably not harmful, but you should discuss this with your surgeon and anesthesiologist.  Some supplements can have interactions with the medications used at the time of surgery. Permanent loss of sensation in the groin/thigh region has been reported when the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve is injured during surgery.  This is a very uncommon   complication in the hands of an experienced board certified Plastic Surgeon.  Good luck with your procedure.

Robert F. Centeno, MD, FACS
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Loss of sensation after tummy tuck


  Loss of some sensation after a full tummy tuck is very common and in fact is to be expected in the areas between the belly button (new position in the redreaped tissue) and the pubic hair area.  If a patient is very slender, there is more hope that the sensation will come back but still this should not be expected in the areas above the incision site in the lower abdomen since the nerves have been altered to get the upper abdominal tissue to redrape.

  Interestingly enough, since there is a different nerve supply to the area below the incision, this area usually retains full sensation.

  A variant of these statements could be made with a limited tummy tuck in which there is little undermining of the skin to be redraped.  Still also is the very little loss of sensation in the minituck procedures as they do not involve making the wide undermining of the tissue of the areas above the belly button.

  Final bottom line, there will be in most all full tummy tucks a loss of sensation that in most cases is permanent.  Interestingly, patients adapt to this loss very quickly as they see the new curves.

  There are no supplements or anything you can do to enhance the regrowth of the nerves.  Nature will do it or will not.  It is variable.

Steven M. Lynch, MD
Albany Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 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.