What Can Be Done for Chronic Pain/numbness 2 Years After Liposuction and Arm Lift?

I had some Liposuction done to my underarm, hip, and back area at the same time I had an arm lift. When I woke in the recovery room, my left side from the waist to the foot was numb. That was 2 years ago. My left side is still numb and it tingles/burns. What do you think happened? Do you think it is a back problem or what? I am in chronic pain. What do you think I should do?

Doctor Answers 12

Pain/numbness 2 years after liposuction and arm lift?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
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.  Given your symptoms, it may be a result of pin radiating from neck or back?  I would certainly consult with a neurologist or physiatrist for evaluation as well.  And, followup closely with your surgeon still. 

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!

Chronic pain two years after surgery is abnormal

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}


I'm sorry that you're experiencing this chronic pain, but hopefully it can be resolved. Like I said in my title, chronic pain two years after surgery is NOT normal. You need to go see a neurologists or a physiatrist. A physiatrst specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

Thank you for your question.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Chronic pain after liposuction

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Liposuction is a safe, popular, and effective way to contour the body. One of the known risks of liposuction is bruising or stretching of nerves in the area treatment. Usually, the nerves repair themselves and the sensation returns without difficulty. Although rare, it is possible for the nerves to not heal completely and this can create chronic pain or discomfort. Be sure that you are evaluated by a board-certified plastic surgeon who can assess these areas. If you continue to have this pain, you may also want to see a neurologist who may recommend a medication to help manage this chronic pain.

You might also like...

Body numbness after an arm lift and back liposuction

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The pattern of numbness you describe is very atypical for liposuction or arm lift procedures. I would consult a neurologist to pinpoint the lesion that is creating your numbness.

Pain management consultation

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

I am sorry to hear of your troubles. It sounds like you had a nerve injury. These are rare, but characterized after arm lift surgery. Pain management doctors might be able to get that under control for you. They are generally anesthesiologists. Ask your surgeon for a referral.

Best Regards.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon

Chronic pain and numbness 2 years after Liposuction and Arm Lift

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The finding you report Left side numbness lasting 2 years"...my left side from the waist to the foot was numb" is VERY atypical and I have not seen it.

I ASSUME you have seen a neurologist and had a CT. In my experience it is seen in only 2 scenarios a massive stroke (which would have most likely left you with muscle weakness on the right side of your body - HEMIPLEGIA and inability to speak, Dysarthria) or in certain psychiatric stress conditions, such as CONVERSION REACTION. The latter is seen with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and other similar conditions and while VERY real to the patient, does not have any CT / MRI findings nor follows any known neuro anatomical pattern.

If everything was ruled out, you may want to consult a psychiatrist who specializes with such disorders. You may find your symptoms could be reversed with hypnosis, relaxation therapy or even some medications.

Good Luck.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Chronic pain after surgery

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The simple answer, as already stated above, is a neurology consultation. The neurologist will perform tests to determine the source of the pain, and may offer treatment.

Nirav Savalia, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Neurology consultation

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The starightforward way is a neurology consultation. Nerve conduction tests as well as imaging studies will be done to rule out the different causes for your synptoms.

Difficult Problem

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Your description is not specific enough for me to make a specific diagnosis. What you describe is consistenet with a nerve injury that may have occurred during surgery. That said, a treatment must be based on an accurate diagnosis. Given that this may be a nerve injury, you may want to seek out a neurological evaluation.

Numbness after liposuction

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The tingling and burning sensation is not common after surgery. FOr this you may want to seek the consultation with a neurologist. In terms of foot numbness, it is unlikely related to liposuction, it could be neurologic related disease secondary to spinal compression and this too can be evaluated by a neurologist.

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.