Some nerve damage occurs any time a surgical procedure is performed on the human body. You have nerves throughout your entire body, and it’s impossible to avoid cutting into your skin without causing any disruption to this nerve network. Usually this nerve damage is minimal and heals on its own within a few months, often without causing any perceptible issues. Numbness and nerve pain can be permanent, however, as can a loss of movement if a major nerve is severed or damaged. Permanent damage is extremely rare after liposuction, but temporary nerve damage is common and is a potential side effect you should be aware of and understand.
Can Liposuction Cause Nerve Damage?
During liposuction, nerve damage can occur in two ways. One is when the surgeon makes the incision. As stated above, it is impossible to make even small incisions without minor disruption to some nerve tissue. Nerve damage can also occur as the surgeon moves the fat-removing cannula back and forth during the liposuction procedure. This movement is necessary to remove the fat from the skin for removal, but it is possible for minor nerves to be in the cannula’s path and sustain some damage as a result. This nerve damage is minor, however, and typically not cause for concern.
It is imperative, however, that you work with an experienced and qualified plastic surgeon. There are some major nerves running throughout the body, such as the sciatic nerve, that can cause severe and permanent movement problems if damaged. An experienced surgeon knows where these nerves are and how to avoid injuring them during surgery.
How Common is Nerve Damage After Lipo?
Minor nerve damage is quite common during liposuction procedures, affecting up to 79% of patients. While this statistic may seem alarming, it’s important to remember that we’re talking about the minor, temporary damage that is expected with any surgical procedure. Serious or permanent nerve problems after liposuction are actually incredibly rare, especially with the tumescent liposuction procedures performed at Mia Aesthetics.
How Do You Know if You Have Nerve Damage?
Nerve damage can present itself in a number of ways after liposuction. Some patients experience numbness in the affected area. Others report a tingling sensation while still others experience a burning feeling or nerve pain. For most patients, these symptoms may prove annoying but are generally not overly disruptive or severe.
How Long Does Nerve Pain Last After Liposuction?
Nerves can heal after sustaining damage, but the process takes time. Most nerve damage caused by liposuction fully resolves within 6 months, but the healing process can take up to 1 year. If the problem lasts longer than that, you should consult a doctor about receiving treatment.
How to Treat Nerve Pain After Liposuction
Numbness and tingling may be something you can ignore, but nerve pain may require treatment to ease your symptoms. There are several medications used to treat nerve pain specifically, including Lyrica, Gabapentin, and Topomax. These medications may be able to provide relief of your nerve pain as you wait for your nerves to heal. Physical therapy can help strengthen your muscles and restore proper movement to them in the event that nerve pain causes you to alter the ways you move your body. Some patients also find relief from nerve pain with acupuncture.
If your nerve pain is the result of scar tissue forming around a nerve, a doctor can use an ultrasound-guided needle to inject fluid to break up the scar tissue and release the nerve. If your pain is severe or prolonged, a specialized surgeon may be able to perform nerve repair surgery on you. This surgery and scar tissue remediation therapies are generally not necessary after liposuction, however.
While medical intervention is sometimes necessary, don’t underestimate your body’s ability to help heal itself if you give it what it needs. Green and leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and asparagus are full of vitamin B, which helps rebuild nerves and support nerve function. Zucchini and other fruits are all rich in antioxidants which can help protect nerve cells, as can sweet potatoes. Eating a healthy diet before and after your liposuction can help you minimize nerve damage as well as other potential complications.