Could abdominal numbness become permanent after tummy tuck? (Photo)

How likely is it that my abdomen will have loss of sensation forever after a tummy tuck with DR and hernia repair?

Doctor Answers 12

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.  It is a possibility that it can become permanent.  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.

Could abdominal numbness become permanent 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.

Could abdominal numbness become permanent 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.

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 22 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
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Numbness After Tummy Tuck #tummytuck

I would expect it to return within the first year but it can become permanent sometimes. It is not something that will resolve quickly. It takes many, many months for the sensation to return. Give it time.

Richard J. Brown, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

Numbness after a tummy tuck.

There is always loss of sensation to the lower abdomen after a tummy tuck.  The sensory nerves are cut when lifting up the skin to repair the muscle.  The nerves usually regenerate and sensation returns first laterally and then medially.  It is not at all unusual to have a small area that stays numb just above the pubic area. 

This sensation loss is not a complication but rather a trade-off. 

Your abdomen looks really, really lax and I think it would be a very reasonable trade-off for you.

Make sure you are evaluated by a plastic surgeon who is comfortable fixing your hernia.  Many of us (me for example) have had full training in general surgery prior to doing our plastic surgery training and feel right at home fixing hernias that we sometimes encounter at tummy tuck surgery.

Lisa Lynn Sowder, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Could abdominal numbness become permanent after tummy tuck?

Yes. It is normal to have numbness after surgery because the nerve endings are damaged with surgery. Normally, the nerves recover over the first year or two after surgery. However, it is not uncommon to have a permanent numb area just above your scar.

Eric Desman, MD
Alexandria Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Numbness after a tummy tuck substantially resolves over months.

Initially there may be a broad area of anesthesia of the skin after an abdominoplasty.Usually this substantially resolves over months although there may be some permanent anesthesia in a small area just above the pubic area.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

Numbness after tummy tuck surgery

Thank you for your question.  Early after surgery there are several areas of numbness of the abdomen.  However over the following year most of the sensation returns except a small amount below the umbilicus.

Could abdominal numbness become permanent after tummy tuck? (Photo)

Not really. You did not mention how far out are you from your surgery. Many factors play into this, surgical and non surgical.
It should settle down and sensation usually comes back in 6 months. I have numbness lasting up to a year.

Maan Kattash, MD, FRCS, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 47 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.