I'm Still Numb After a Tummy Tuck! Of Late I Have Had Tingling Vibrating Surges on my Left Side. Is This Due to Nerve Damage?

My tummy tuck was 9 months ago

Doctor Answers 7

Lasting Numbness after Tummy Tuck

Although uncommon, permanent numbness can occur after tummy tuck surgery, especially in the lower mid line area between the scar and belly button. After 9 months there can be some improvement but it is doubtful. In most cases there is some sensation present, just not the normal pre-surgical amount. The good news is that it does not affect your normal functions and with time, most people are no longer aware or concerned with its presence.

#tummytucknumbness #tummytuckpost-op

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 150 reviews

I'm still numb after tummy tuck! Of late, I have had tingling, bibrating surges on my left side. Is this due to nerve damage?

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 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!

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

Numbness and swelling 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 45 reviews

Nerves are by definition released during a tummy tuck


During a standard tummy tuck many small nerves and vessels are released to allow the tummy tuck to be performed.  All of the tissue that is removed is disconnected from these nerves and vessels.  Numbness and tingling are part of the tummy tuck recovery process.

All the best

Dr Remus Repta

Remus Repta, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 159 reviews

Sensory changes after tummy tuck

Tummy tuck damages many skin nerves in the process- not a complication, an unfortunate byproduct (many incisions will lead to numbness) the strange sensations you describe are called paresthesias, and herald return of sensation, which may take up to two years, and may not return completely.

Scott E. Kasden, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 98 reviews

Numbness following tummy tuck

Thanks for the question. It's normal to have temporary numbness following this type of surgery. Infact, it would be abnormal not to have some numbness in various areas of your abdomen. The tingling means the nerves are "waking back up". It can take months for all the sensation to come back. In extreme cases it can take up to 2 years for all normal sensation to return. Hope that helps. 

Shaun Parson, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 46 reviews

Numbness after Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Thank you for the question.

Yes, long-term numbers of the abdominal wall skin is normal after tummy tuck surgery. Hopefully, the “tingling vibrating surges” you are experiencing may be  related to nerve regeneration. If you have specific concerns and/or significant symptoms you may want to follow-up with your plastic surgeon for more precise diagnosis/advice.

Best wishes.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,464 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.