Skin Numbness After Tummy Tuck

i just had a tummy tuck 7 days ago and i have numbness of my skin right between my rib cage all the way down to my belly button. is this normal and how long till the numbness goes away?

Doctor Answers 10

Numbness after a Tummy Tuck

It is very common to have numbness following a tummy tuck.  The nerves that are damaged can take a long time to heal, much more than other tissues.  In most people it can take six months to a year before the nerves fully heal and the numbness is gone.  This is a major surgery and you need to give yourself time for your body to fully heal.  If you still have numbness after a year consult with your plastic surgeon to see what their recommendations are.  Good luck with the rest of your recovery.

Portland Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Skin Numbness after Tummy Tuck

It is perfectly normal to have numbness after a tummy tuck which is expected to slowly have sensation return to normal after many months and even years following your surgery. Although uncommon, permanent numbness and tingling can occur after tummy tuck surgery, especially in the lower mid line area between the scar and belly button. In most cases there is some sensation present, just not the normal pre-surgical amount. Please speak with your plastic surgeon about your concerns.

#tummytucknumbness #tummytuckpost-op

Larry S. Nichter, MD, MS, FACS
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 154 reviews

Skin Numbness After Tummy Tuck

Thank you for the question. When a tummy tuck operation is performed, the abdominal wall skin is separated from the underlying abdominal wall muscle. During this process,  many sensory nerves are divided. Therefore, some degree of  numbness is to be expected. This may persist for months to years. In some cases/locations, the loss of sensation may be permanent.  Also, as patients become more active, they report abdominal wall swelling (this may increase during the day);  this phenomenon is usually self limited and improves when the lymphatic and venous channels start to work normally. Again, it may take several months/years for this to occur.  

I hope this, and the attached link (dedicated to tummy tuck concerns) helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,487 reviews

Skin Numbness After Tummy Tuck

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.  Swelling will take at least 6-12 weeks alone to resolve as well.

The ususal 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!

Lewis Albert Andres, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Swelling and numbness after tummy tuck

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
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Numbness after tummy tuck

The numbness you describe is absolutely normal and should improve over the coming months. Be patient, as it truly can take months to resolve.  You may also find that some of the numbness never goes away, but you won't know for sure until at least 18 months have passed.

Carmen Kavali, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Numbness after tummy tuck

Yes, this is extremely common and will be most profound for the first 6 weeks after surgery and diminish thereafter. IT is very common to have persistent numbness immmediately below the umbilicus down to the pubic hairline.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Will resolve with time.

This is normal.  During abdominoplasty the skin is lifted and tightened.  The small nerve endings to the skin are disprupted but regenerate over 6-12 months.

Dr. ES

Skin Numbness After Tummy Tuck

To perform the tummy tuck the loose tummy skin is lifted off the underlying muscles which are then tightened and the excess loose skin is removed. In the process, certain skin nerves are temporarily and permanently damaged. Skin sensation gradually returns to the entire tummy skin except for the area in the midline just above the Mons pubis. If you had a C-section or speak to a friend who had a C section, the same area of numbness is seen in these women as well.

Dr. Peter Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 108 reviews

Numbness after a tummy tuck

There is of necessity some numbness of the abdominal wall from lifting up the skin and dividing its nerves.  Most will return after many months but you may have some permanent numbness below the belly button.  You won't know for sure until 2-3 years have passed.

Richard P. Rand, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 67 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.