Patients often experience a change in abdominal sensitivity after a tummy tuck. This is absolutely normal and common. Some patients may experience numbness in the abdomen, while others may feel increased skin sensitivity, tightening, tingling, and itchiness.
The tummy tuck is a major operation that involves surgical excision of the skin, besides tightening the abdominal wall muscles to get a firmer, youthful, and toned skin. The surgery involves incisions. During the procedure, the nerves, blood vessels, muscles, skin, and tissues will be tampered with and injured. This may result in a change in sensitivity on the abdomen.
The normal sensation of your abdomen will return about 6-12 months after the surgery. During this period, the nerves will rekindle themselves, beginning from the outer skin and making their way to the major areas of the skin interior.
In rare cases, patients may experience a permanent change in or loss of skin sensation in the area between the navel and the center of the incision on the abdomen. This is more likely to occur in cases where the damage done to the nerves is permanent, and the nerves can't heal despite trying.
It is common among plastic surgeons to tell patients they may experience a temporary or permanent change in sensation on the abdomen after a tummy tuck. The area between the umbilicus and the upper pubic area are more prone to have a permanent change in skin sensation as a result of the procedure. Any change in the sensation of the abdomen at the edge of the incision through and atop the umbilicus and the upper abdomen is temporary in most cases.
Patients can expect to regain some of the original sensation a few months following the tummy tuck; however, complete recovery will take more time. The exact time period to regain your abdominal sensation after the surgery also differs from patient to patient.
In order to speed up the nerve regeneration process, some surgeons may recommend the use of massage to desensitize the abdomen. However, in most cases, the patients do not need outside interventions to regain their original sensitivity after the tummy tuck. If your original skin sensation doesn't return even a year after the operation, you should consult with the plastic surgeon.