Numb Thigh After Tummy Tuck Surgery

I am 5 months post tummy tuck surgery and am generally pleased with the results. I have the typical numbness/sensation changes to the abdominal area but am more concerned with the numbness in my outer left thigh as its more extreme and "deeper".

Why did this occur and can I expect it to decrease with time? Is there anything that I can do (or shouldn't be doing) to encourage nerve regeneration? Thanks in advance for any information. I am a fit and healthy 41 yr old who exercises almost daily.

Doctor Answers 8

Nerve irregularity after Tummy Tuck should decrease in time

This sounds like an interference with the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Nerve injuries can take one to two years to resolve. Sometimes, you get an 'electirc shock' by tapping at your groin crease. When this goes away, the nerve will grow back. Usually, the good appearance of the abdomen outweighs the decreased sensation.

Boston Plastic Surgeon
3.2 out of 5 stars 7 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 48 reviews

Nerves are tricky things

Nerves are tricky things. The area you are describing is supplied by the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Several things could be occurring - irritation, entrapment, injury, neuropraxia, etc. Most of the time nerve issues resolve with time - months and years. Occasionally, there is an intervention that can release the nerve from entrapment. You should discuss these issues with your doctor.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Numb thigh after tummy tuck surgery.

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.  You likely have some neuropraxia to the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve of your thigh.  While this is most likely, the nerve could have been cut or entrapped.  Be patient - if worsens or does not resolve, surgical intervention may be entertained - regardless, follow up closely with your surgeon.

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 of thigh after tummy tuck

As Dr. Shafer has described there are several possible explanations for the reported numbness. The lateral femoral cutaneous nerve lies close to the incision particularly if a low lying incision is used. Nerves can be bruised, injured, entrapped, transected, etc. In many instances this will resolve but it may take time. Occasionally the recovery of a nerve can be traced using the "Tinel's sign" which is tingling elicited by tapping over the regenerating end of the nerve.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 82 reviews

Numbness on thigh

Sensory changes are fairly common after a tummy tuck. If you have numbness on the thigh especially laterally it may or may not be permanent.  You really have to give it about a year.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Numbness in the thigh after a tummy to surgery

Tummy tucks are a very popular and effective way to contour the abdomen. Patients who received the surgery should understand that there is a significant recovery process afterwards. Patients can expect to have swelling and bruising and a short period of numbness in their abdominal tissue. However, numbness in the thigh is unusual. Discuss your concerns with your plastic surgeon as they will want to evaluate you and determine the area that is affected area it is possible that a cutaneous sensory nerve may have been stretched or injured depending on the location of your abdominoplasty incision.

To learn more about tummy tucks, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

Pat Pazmino, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 108 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.