Will I Get Better After Tummy Tuck Problems?

Is it normal or am I supposed to have so much pain after Tummy Tuck? Will the numbness ever go away? Was it something I did that caused me to bleed so much? My scars are ugly; why is this? Should he not have done the surgery all the way around my body? I'm so afraid that one day I will injure myself somehow in the numb areas and won't know it! Will I get better?

Doctor Answers 10

Anything that could go wrong did go wrong

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Abdominoplasty is a procedure that is done thousands of times each year in this country. If the patient is appropriately evaluated preoperatively and the correct surgical technique is performed, including precautions for blood clots, than the risks can be minimized. Unfortunately complications do happen but usually not all of them at once! Why the bleeding etc I have no idea. The numbness usually resolves over the course of several months. Although it is possible to have permanent numbness around the belly button or between the belly button and the incision.

The abnormal pain is likely related to the bleeding which is highly irritating to the body. If you're 6 weeks out of surgery and still having significant pain you should see a pain specialist. At least get started on Lyrica. For the answers to all of your questions you'll need to have a one on one which your doc and don't leave until you get the answers you need.

Tummy tuck pain and numbness

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You do not state how far are you from your surgery, what was your weight and height. People who are closest to their ideal body weight will have the best results and the least possible complications. It is common to have pain especially after muscle repair and numbness as well. I tell my patients that the numbness resolves in about six months, but in an occassional patient I've seen it last over a year. This is mainly in the lower abdomen, between the belly button and the pubic area. Did you bleed after surgery, had a hematoma? You are not clear in describing this. Scars can be raised and red initially, but they do fade and settle down. A small percentage of patients do heal with thick scars (maybe too much tension during closure of the incision or some people do form more scars) and they might require a scar revision months later to improve this. I always do extensive liposuction of the back, hips, buttocks and sometimes the thighs with my abdominoplasties to get the best results in reshaping the midsection. The numbness will go away. I never heard anyone injuring themselves because of this. I caution my patients to stay away from heating pads in this area, since it is possible to sustain a burn injury to the numb area.

Will I get better after tummy tuck problems?

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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 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 28 reviews

Numbness and Swelling post 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

All of your questions are valid and you deserve some answers

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I would strongly recommend that you schedule an appointment with your plastic surgeon and discuss your concerns. All of your questions are valid and you deserve some answers. Your plastic surgeon knows you the best and understands what surgical techniques were utilized, and is the most capable of providing you with the best information. It sounds like you have experienced a very difficult post operative course. Let your plastic surgeon and his/her staff assist you doing your recovery.

I hope this helps!

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Return to your surgeon for answers

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It is implossible to know the answer to your questions without knowing more about your surgery, the extent, the techniques, the timing, etc.

You have many, many questions that need to be addressed by your surgeon or his staff. It sounds as if you may have lost some trust but remember it is in your surgeon's best interests to make you a satisfied patient. Give him or her an opportunity to answer your questions.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 reviews

You need your doctor's answers, not the internet's

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You are very fragile and have anxiety about many issues that may be perfectly normal after a tummy tuck.  Only your doctor knows you best and you trusted them to do your suregry.  Honor that trust and keep these questions addressed to your doctor.  They will want to help you!!

Numbness and scar problems after Tummy Tuck will subside

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Depending on how long you are since your Tummy Tuck surgery, everything sounds fine. The numbness will go away. The scar will get better. Just give it all time--it can take a year.

G. Gregory Gallico III, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon

Numbness after tummy tuck

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It's hard to answer most of your questions because you don't indicate how much time has passed since your surgery. I tell my patients that numbness can persist up to a year postop but should improve slowly during that time. The same goes for scar maturation. With regard to pain and discomfort, this usually improves faster (over 6-8 weeks). I suggest you voice your concerns to your surgeon as they are probably easily addressed. Good luck!

Elan B. Singer, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Numbness after tummy tuck

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The good news is that your numbness will definitely improve, and this takes time. The same thing can be said of scars. The process can take as long as 6 months or more but is progressive. You do not indicate the time frame from your surgery and how long the bleeding persisted, etc., so that others questions cannot be answered just yet.

Theodore Katz, MD, FACS
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon

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.