Numb Thigh After Tummy Tuck?

Hi, I made a TT 2 days ago. Since I woke up from the surgery I noticed that the outer side of my left thigh was numb, I thought that this was due to the surgery itself and that it would pass.My thight now is not only numb but I got a burning feeling specially when I sit down which goes down to the knee. They told me that a nerve was pinched and it will take time to recover. How long will it take and what can I do to releive the burning feeling? Thanks in advance!

Doctor Answers 7

Numb thigh after tummy tuck?

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Hello! Thank you for your question! Numbness after any surgical procedure is expected for several weeks to months following. As the nerves to the area are traumatized and will then experience a temporary neuropraxia, a transient loss of nerve conduction. This usually resolves over the next 6-12 weeks, but depending on the procedure performed, sometimes much longer. Typically this should resolve by 1 year. As it goes past this date, the likelihood of the sensation returning is small. However, it can take up to 2 years. If no return from there, it is unlikely to return. It should be discussed that persistent sensory changes may develop following any surgical procedure.  The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve may have neuropraxia or less likely damage.  Followup closely with your surgeon for options.  However, it should resolve over weeks to months.

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!

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Swelling and numbness after 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

Nerve injury following tummy tuck

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It sounds like a particular nerve (the lateral cutaneous nerve of the thigh) is causing your symptoms. This runs fairly superficially (not deep) at the outer edge of the tummy tuck scar. 

It may be that this is a temporary symptom, in which case it may take some months to improve. However, occasionally this nerve can be permanently damaged, leaving you with long term numbness. The exact extent of this could only be determined after about 2-years, as that is how long it takes for nerves to heal, if they are going to.

Regarding the pain, you should speak to your plastic surgeon about this, as there may be things that can be started early to minimise this (such as amitriptilline or gabapentin, both nerve-related medications).

As you said, it is likely that the nerve was caught in a stitch, in which case it should recover with time (many months I'm afraid). Regular massaging of the area will help, but only after 2-3 weeks post-surgery


Burning pain after tummy tuck, nerves?

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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. The timeline for recovery can be weeks to 12 months. 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.

Nerve pain in thigh after tummy tuck

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Pinched nerves generally recover fairly slowly, so it could be several months before it recovers. There are 2 options to consider besides waiting: one would be to surgically open the incision where the nerve is being pinched and release the stitch that is probably causing it. Another is a medication called neurontin, which is very effective for nerve pain.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Numb Thigh After Tummy Tuck

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Thank you for your question.

The location of your numbness -on the outside of your thigh-and the tingling sensation are unusual signs of nerve injury after Tummy Tuck.

The symptoms you describe sound like a condition called Meralgia Paresthetica which more likely is caused by positioning on the operative table.

Nerve injuries caused by Tummy Tuck would be more likely cause numbness in the medial thigh area, lower abdomen and pubis.

I suggest that you consult a Neurologist for evaluation-this could help you avoid an unnecessary exploratory surgery.

Nerve Pain After Tummy Tuck

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This definitely sounds like an irritation to the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve.  This nerve gives you sensation to the outer thigh.  This irritation should resolve over time with reduction in the swelling. There are medications to help relieve "nerve" pain ( neurotin, Lyrica, etc.)  The best advice is to sit down with your PS and discuss your options after a good physical exam.


Dr. ES

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.