What Can I Do for Nerve Pain Following Liposuction?

I had lipo 22 days ago to my arms and upper/lower abs. Now that the numbness has worn off, I am having a really hard time with what seems like nerve pain. My skin feels like it has been severely burned. The arms are the worst and the compression garment is unbearable by evening.

I am at 10 hours daily of compression garment wear, but am unsure which is worse, as going without it is very painful also. I think I need to stay in it more, since I still have swelling. I am doing epsom salts baths daily and had a lymphatic massage this week. I begin endermologie treatments next week if I am able to stand it.

All pain killers I have tried are completely ineffective. 800 mg Ibuprofen isn't helping, either. Is there anything anyone can recommend? My anxiety level from this is affecting me in a huge way. I'm not wanting to go back to using the Darvocet if possible because it caused severe constipation. I'm hoping to get in to see my doctor on Friday. Thanks so much

Doctor Answers 9

Pain after liposuction very unusual.


The degree and duration of pain after liposuction that you are describing is very rare.  In Manhattan, we have not seen this in many hundreds of cases.  It will almost certainly go away.

Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Give your Liposuction results time

Although it is uncommon to experience the degree of pain you are having 22 days after arm liposuction, your situation is one that plastic surgeons see from time to time. Let me reassure you that time is ultimately the most important healer in your case. It is extremely rare for symptoms such as yours to persist permanently.

There are a few medications you could ask your surgeon about for the short term. Lyrica, neurontin, and nortriptyline may help with "neuropathic" pain that is often unrelieved by narcotic pain medicine. Chances are that you will only have to take one of these for a short time, until your body heals.

James C. Grotting, MD, FACS
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 14 reviews

Wait for your visit, ask about desensitization

I understand what you are going through. It sounds like you are correct in your diagnosis of the problem.

Most likely, the symptoms will be present for a while, but will correct themselves over time as you heal.

In the mean time, you will likely benefit from desensitization of the healing nerves. You should check with your doctor about this. However, moving various materials over the sensitive areas (cotton, denim, a brush, etc.), using various amounts of pressure will stimulate the sensation that you don't like, but if you do this for about 30 seconds twice a day, this will help to desensitize the nerves. I would again recommend checking with your doctor, because it is better learned with a demonstration.

Scott E. Kasden, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 101 reviews

Pain after liposuction

It is not uncommon for patients to have changes in sensation after liposuction that usually gets better over the first 4-6 weeks as the swelling subsides and the body heals.

Severe pain is unusual but slightly more common with ultrasonic or laser lipolysis techniques where fat removal is less specific. (There is a fat layer over the sensory nerves that may be impacted by these devices).

I would follow closely with your doctor to make sure the pain is not from anything else( i.e infection, fluid collection, to name a few).

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

Revisit your surgeon and wait on Endermologie until all pain subsides

Nerve pain/burning 22 days after liosuction is uncommon, but certainly possible. One thing to consider is whether an internal form of liposuction-assist was used, such as laser or internal ultrasound. The internal laser or ultrasound could potentially be causing the burning sensation as an afetr-effect on the nerves.

Early on it is imperative to make sure you do not have an infection or compartment syndrome (where muscles and nerves can actually die from pressure). Visit with your surgeon as often as you need.

It is better not to wear a compression garment that is too tight and I am sure your surgeon can help you find a less restrictive one until the swelling, burning and pain has resolved.

For similar reasons, I would not recommend Endermologie or any cellulite/body shaping technology until your are pain free.

The good news is that long term burning or nerve pain is extrremely rare, so your symptoms are likely to resolve with time. Do keep your doctor informed of all developments. Good luck with your postoperative course.

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Hypersensitivity After liposuction and methods to reduce it

Hypersensitivity after liposuction can occur and this is what I have observed in my practice which may be useful to you.

Typically I see it more with ultrasonic liposuction and it occurs late at about 2-3 weeks when the nerves are recovering. Usually it resolves and I use antiinflammatories such as Celebrex or Ibuprofen.

When this does not provdie relief, I suggest Lyrica a drug which is used for burning leg pain in diabetics. This is similar the the effect of neruontin which has been previously mentioned.

Although endermologie may be a little aggressive and painful, I highly recommend that you begin massaging the areas to desensitize them. We commonly see hypersiensitivity after finger injuries for which we recommend physical therapy to massage and desensitize the areas.

This is oftentimes similar to the pain you experience when your leg "wakes up" after falling asleep and we call this dysethesias. Generally as the nerves recover the painful pins and needles will disappear.

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

Burning pain is a dyesthesia

The burning pain your are experiencing is most likely a hyperesthesia or dysethesia, essentially a bruised nerve. Most commonly patient's complain of a deep burn or ache. Even light touch to the area can cause this type of pain. It will get better with some time. If it is very disruptive then there are some medications that may be of use such as nortryptilline and neurotin. You should have another examination from your surgeon and discuss the type of pain that you are having especially to rule out anyother treatable cause.

Jeffrey Zwiren, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

See your doctor now to make sure you don't have an infection.

Normally after liposuction there is little or no pain after 24-48 hours. I would call your doctor and request to be seen to make sure you have no infection or other complication.

I would not do the endermologie treatment if you are having pain. At the same time, if not before, I would call to get a different pain reliever that is non-constipating.

Toby Mayer, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Nerve pain after liposuction

Liposuction is a safe, popular, and effective way to contour the body.

Patients who undergo liposuction should understand the recovery process that follows this surgery. They may experience swelling, bruising, and alterations in the sensation of the area that have been treated. In our practice, we provide all our patients with a special and tight compression garment that will help reduce the amount of swelling and provide support and comfort for the patient. If you have had liposuction three weeks ago, you are still in the early healing process and should expect the swelling as well as the discomfort continue to go away.

Pat Pazmino, MD, FACS
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 101 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.