Hand Surgery

From dressing, eating and driving, to creating art, playing sports and earning a living, your hands perform countless tasks throughout the day. Any impairment to this delicate area of the body can be devastating, psychologically as well as physically, and leave you unable to perform activities you once took for granted. Hand surgery address problems related to the fingers, hands, wrists and forearms to restore strength, flexibility and mobility to these vital structures.

Who Can Benefit From Hand Surgery?

If you are experiencing pain or restricted range of motion in your fingers, hand, wrist or arm, you may want to consult a surgeon about your treatment options. Conditions commonly treated by hand surgery include:

  • Arthritis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Trigger finger
  • Nerve, tendon, blood vessel and joint injuries
  • Fractures and dislocations
  • Ganglion cysts
  • Infections
  • Degenerative disease
  • Cuts, burns and other skin injuries
  • Missing or amputated digits
  • Congenital disorders

What Techniques Are Used in Hand Surgery?

Modern techniques have greatly improved the plastic surgeon’s ability to restore function and improve the appearance of the hands. These advanced techniques include, but are not limited to:

Grafts: Grafting procedures are used to transfer skin, bone, ligaments, nerves or other tissues from a healthy part of the body (the donor site) to repair a damaged area (the recipient site). Skin grafting, for example, is commonly used to treat skin loss due to a burn, infection or large wound.

Flap Surgery: Flap surgery involves the transfer of healthy skin along with its underlying fat, muscle and blood vessels from a donor site to a recipient site. Flaps are often used to treat areas that lack sufficient blood supply due to injury to the blood vessels or extensive tissue damage.

Replantation: Replantation is used to reattach a body part, such as a finger, that has been surgically amputated or accidentally severed from the body. Replantation typically involves microsurgery, a highly precise technique that uses microscopes and small instruments to repair intricate structures like blood vessels and nerves.

What Are Some Examples of Hand Surgery?

Hand surgery refers to a wide variety of procedures performed to repair damage and restore function to the fingers, hands and wrists. Some of the most common hand conditions and their treatments include:

Carpal Tunnel Surgery: Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by pressure to the median nerve that runs through the wrist. During carpal tunnel release surgery, a precise cut is made in the ligament that makes up the carpal tunnel to release the pressure, reduce swelling and allow nerve transmissions to flow unimpeded to the hands and fingers.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Surgery: Rheumatoid arthritis causes severe inflammation in the joints, affecting both the appearance and the function of the hands. Surgeons can reduce the symptoms of arthritis by removing tissue from inflamed joints, repositioning tendons or implanting artificial joints.

Trigger Finger Surgery: Trigger finger is a tendon condition that prevents the affected finger from bending and straightening freely, often locking it in a curled position. Surgery for trigger finger widens the tunnel surrounding the tendon so the tendon can slide smoothly.

Tendon Repair Surgery: Tendons are the connective fibers that attach muscle to bone. They can sometimes bend or snap, necessitating primary (within 24 hours of the injury), delayed primary (a few days after the injury) or secondary surgical repair (two weeks or longer after the injury). Primary repairs typically involve direct surgical correction of the damage, while secondary repairs may require more complex procedures such as tendon grafts.

Dupuytren’s Contracture Surgery: Dupuytren’s contracture is a disorder that causes thick, scar-like tissue to form under the skin of the palm. It may extend into the fingers, curling them toward the palm and inhibiting motion. Surgery to separate the bands of thickened tissue is the only treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture. A skin graft may also be necessary if a large amount of tissue is removed.

Congenital Deformity Surgeries: Congenital deformities are present at birth and can interfere with proper hand growth, causing limitations to the use of the hand as well as abnormal appearance. Common congenital defects include syndactyly (fused fingers), polydactyly (duplications of fingers), symbrachydactyly or brachydactyly (underdevelopment of the hand), macrodactyly (overdevelopment of the hand) and clubhand. Surgical intervention can achieve significant functional and aesthetic improvement for many congenital hand abnormalities.

What Can I Expect From Recovery?

Recovery depends on the condition being treated and the type of hand surgery performed. The hand and wrist are complex structures that can be very sensitive. Pain is to be expected after many types of hand surgery, and the hand and wrist are often immobilized during the earlier stages of the healing process. Rehabilitation via physical and occupational therapy may be recommended to restore the fullest possible use of your hand. It’s critical to follow the instructions of both your plastic surgeon and your therapist to optimize your recovery.

Will Insurance Cover Hand Surgery?

Most insurance companies offer full or partial coverage for surgery to correct functional problems of the hand – including carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic pain, trigger finger and other debilitating conditions – because the procedure is considered medically necessary. However, coverage for specific procedures and levels of coverage can vary greatly between insurance companies, so it is important to contact your provider in advance of any surgery to verify the benefits of your health plan.

Is Hand Surgery Right For Me?

Significant advances have been made in recent years in treating patients with traumatic injuries, degenerative disorders and congenital abnormalities of the hand. Hand surgery can restore both form and function to the hands, increasing strength, flexibility and pain-free range of motion in your wrist and fingers. If you’re tired of living with pain, numbness or restricted movement, call the Celestial Institute of Plastic Surgery at 734-844-5700 to schedule a consultation and learn more about the ways hand surgery could restore your quality of life.