Totally numb area feels itchy. I'm curious.
March 3, 2010 6:51 AM   Subscribe

I had a breast reduction about four years ago and every once in awhile a numb part of my breast feels itchy. What's up with that? (possibly NSFW)

Most of the skin on my breasts is pretty much numb - I can feel pressure, and that's about it. I had anchor-style incisions with Jackson-Pratt drains, if that helps at all.

This happens very rarely - probably a few times a year. It doesn't seem to relate to my menstrual cycle at all. It's not the skin that feels itchy, but rather the tissue below it. Scratching or putting firm pressure on the area does nothing to reduce the itchy feeling.

I know that wounds can feel itchy when they're healing, but it's been over four years now. So, what's going on?
posted by giraffe to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
Sorry, I failed to mention that my skin is just fine and doesn't seem irritated or anything.
posted by giraffe at 6:56 AM on March 3, 2010

I get this too - after mastectomy and reconstructive surgery - on my numb parts. I also have numb areas on my abdomen that also feel itchy occasionally. My (completely out of my own head) theory is that the itchy feeling comes from the nerves in the deeper tissue that haven't been damaged - while the nerves closer to the surface that ARE damaged don't allow you to scratch to relieve the itch. Very very very annoying!

While I was writing this it started to make less sense than it does in my head. But it may help to know that you're not the only one...?
posted by Theresa at 7:06 AM on March 3, 2010

I had two C-secs and had the numb but itchy sensation for years after both. My scar area itched with less and less frequency, and became less and less numb over time. It took over ten years after the second C-sec for the numbness to completely disappear! But it did. Knowing that the numbess and itching will most likely eventually go away helps deal with it, I think.

I can't believe I'm citing a Yahoo Answer here, but this is actually a pretty good layman's explanation of what's going on - your nerves are regenerating and itching is part of the process.
posted by iconomy at 7:22 AM on March 3, 2010

Yup, I've had this with scarring. I presumed it was from damaged nerves.
posted by runningwithscissors at 7:25 AM on March 3, 2010

I had a reduction in September and I get the itchies a couple times a month. It's just a part of the process, but man does it suck that scratching doesn't help because of the numbness.

But even with the itching and the numbness and the scars it's still the second best thing I ever did for myself.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:55 AM on March 3, 2010

seconding damaged nerves.

when I had my wisdom teeth out (about 15 years ago), the oral surgeon nicked some nerves and told me the damage was most likely permanent.

at first I was really freaked out, because there was like a dime-sized spot on the left side of my chin that was completely numb. then, over the years, the surrounding nerves have filled in a simulacrum of sensation in that area.

If I touch that exact spot, I have the touch sensation, but not the same as in the surrounding areas. It's more like an echo or shadow of a touch. the weirdest thing is, I feel much more sensitive to the sensation of my face on my fingertip, (the texture, temperature) than to the sensation of my fingertip on my face. that is, my finger feels my face, but my face doesn't feel my finger.

every once in a while, the spot will itch, or feel like someone's pouring cold water on it. if it bugs me, I take a shower or wash my face, to kind of redistribute or overwhelm the sensation. so, try doing something like that, to get all your skin nerve endings involved for a while. maybe a hot hot shower or a cold cold one.

as I said, the surgery and damage occurred about 15 years ago, and I get the weird phantom nerve sensations less and less, now.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:13 AM on March 3, 2010

I have a dime-sized spot on my back that does this occasionally. I have been told that it's nerve damage.
posted by dizziest at 8:38 AM on March 3, 2010

Concurring that all my deep tissue scars do this; the older ones with less frequency than the brand new one. In my case at least the scar tissue being stretched in some way will often trigger it for a while and vertical scars tend to do it more than flatter scars.
posted by Mitheral at 8:44 AM on March 3, 2010

I have the same sensation where I had a testicle removed.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 8:47 AM on March 3, 2010

what you have is paresthesia
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:28 AM on March 3, 2010

Just chiming in the chorus to say that I get this around my nipples, where I had gynecomastia surgery, which is basically a breast reduction for dudes, about a decade ago. I can't feel them really, but they get itchy. I've been told it's a nerve thing as well.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:05 AM on March 3, 2010

So is the itchy feeling caused by the healing process? Or just a quirky moment in the life of nerve-damaged tissue?

Thanks for the answers so far!
posted by giraffe at 10:06 AM on March 3, 2010

In my experience, the itchy sensation was related to nerve regeneration. I had a c-section 13 years ago and a tumor removed from my salivary glad three years ago, and I've experienced the regeneration itch with both.
posted by cooker girl at 10:21 AM on March 3, 2010

I had the same feeling on my right side after abdominal surgery. A patch of skin was numb for a couple of years, then suddenly started tingling and itching from the inside (scratching myself didn't help). My OB/GYN told me it was the nerves coming back to life after the surgery -- waking up again.
posted by vickyverky at 10:30 AM on March 3, 2010

That's really neat! When my doctor said "you may regain sensation as you heal," I thought he meant a year or two.

Thanks for the answers!
posted by giraffe at 10:39 AM on March 3, 2010

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