When your hand is injured, it can compromise your ability to carry out even the simplest day-to-day tasks. The goal of Reconstructive Hand Surgery is to restore your ability to interact with the world. This is very impactful to us at SuperGroup, where not only do we have skilled plastic surgeons, but our plastic surgeons carry specialized training specifically in Hand and Upper Extremity as well as Microsurgery. This allows us to offer you the best chance possible in restoring your dexterity and regaining your independence.
“The hand is the visible part of the brain” – Immanuel Kant
Why Get Hand Surgery?
There are a number of reasons why patients might need reconstructive hand surgery.
- Accidents and injuries. Most commonly, we treat patients who have had their hands damaged in accidents. These might be car collisions, workplace accidents, or sports-related accidents.
- Nerve Compression and injuries. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is one of the most common causes of hand pain and numbness and affects people of all ages and gender. Carpal tunnel is a common affliction among those who have desk jobs, or who tend to overuse their hands and wrists in simple, repetitive actions. But did you know you can also have nerve compression at the wrist, elbow, forearm, or even your legs? We offer the ability to treat all peripheral nerve pathologies with microsurgical techniques and minimally invasive endoscopic techniques.
- Arthritis. Arthritis is extremely common in the hand. In fact, the distal phalanx may be the most commonly affected joint in arthritis—the causes of arthritis range from overuse, prior trauma, and sometimes autoimmune. Many patients find themselves unable to continue their favorite hobbies or even their jobs due to arthritis. We offer surgery and other modalities that oftentimes can restore your ability to perform those activities again.
- Dupuytren’s contracture. This hand disorder can be disabling, causing scar-like tissue bands to form and impair the motion of your hands and fingers. Oftentimes, you will be unable to extend your finger due to the scarring. We offer both non-surgical and surgical options to treat this condition.
How Should I Prepare for Hand Surgery?
Before getting hand surgery, the most important thing you can do is meet with your reconstructive surgeon to discuss the procedure and ensure that you are a good candidate.
In some cases, your surgeon may ask you to take a few additional steps to prepare for the procedure. Examples include:
- If you are a smoker, you will be advised to stop. Nicotine in smoking affects the smallest blood vessels in your body. In order to have the best outcome in hand surgery, it is important to have the best blood supply possible.
- You may also be advised to discontinue certain medications or supplements that cause bleeding or delay healing.
- While most hand surgeries are same-day outpatient surgeries, you will likely be advised to arrange for someone to drive you home from surgery, and help around the house for a couple of days as you recover and regain dexterity.
What are the Different Types of Hand Surgery?
Depending on the nature of your hand impairment, your reconstructive surgeon may recommend any one of the following procedures.
This type of surgery is most commonly used for injuries that result in loss of skin. Some of the most common examples are fingertip amputations or burns. We take skin from an area that has an excess in order to graft it where it is needed.
This procedure is very similar to a skin graft but involves skin that has its own blood supply. This type of procedure is often necessary when the area with missing skin does not have a strong blood supply of its own or if you have bone, metal, nerves, or blood vessels exposed.
Closed Reduction and Fixation
This is a type of surgical intervention used to address broken bones, including broken fingers. Your plastic surgeon will realign the broken bone, then hold it in place as it heals. This sometimes is done with a splint or cast, or sometimes with small pins.
The tendons are fibers that connect your muscle to the bone. Tendons can become damaged due to injury or illness. Repairing damaged tendons takes incredible surgical skill and precision, as the tendons themselves are so delicate. As important as the surgery is, rehabilitation after tendon injuries is even more important. It is important that your surgeon possess the skill to repair your tendon to tolerate early therapy. It is also important that your surgeon understands the variety of therapy protocols and their optimal use. We have surgeons who have specifically trained in upper extremity surgery with orthopedic surgeons and hand therapists in order to guide you through the most critical phase. The surgery often only takes a few hours, but the rehabilitation will take several weeks. It is important that you choose a surgeon that is well-versed in rehabilitation and in surgery.
With severe hand arthritis, the best approach is often to simply replace the bad joint. Most surgeons will replace your joints with metal or foreign bodies. We have surgeons that can not only offer you those options, but since we are plastic surgeons and microsurgeons, in certain cases, we can offer joint replacement using only your own tissue. This allows a better long-term result and protects you from the disadvantages of having a foreign body in your body.
Note that this is not intended as a comprehensive list of the different types of hand surgeries, but should provide a sense of just how wide and varied this field can be. We are passionate about this field and would love to meet and discuss how we can help you!
What About Recovery from Hand Surgery?
Following reconstructive hand surgery, you can anticipate the need to rest and relax for a few days while your body heals. It is also important to keep your hand properly bandaged. Your reconstructive surgeon will provide you with a more comprehensive list of post-operative instructions.
As you recover from hand surgery, you may be counseled to pursue physical therapy, specifically focused on basic hand and finger movements. This therapy can be essential not just for ensuring a full recovery but also for restoring the strength, flexibility, and movement of your hand. As mentioned previously, it is critical you choose a surgeon that understands the nuances of rehabilitation.
Find Out More About Reconstructive Hand Surgery
If injury or illness impairs the functionality of your hand, reconstructive surgery may be the necessary treatment. At Thrive Reconstructive Surgery, we have ample experience performing full restorations, even for the most complicated hand deformities. We would be happy to answer any further questions you have about hand surgery.