When people think of plastic surgery, rarely do they think of the hands, but for the people with degenerative disorders, hand injuries or hand birth defects, plastic surgery of the hand can be a godsend. Hands which have damage to the tendons, nerves, joints, blood vessels, bones, burns, and cuts- to name a few- can often been improved, if not wholly corrected, through hand surgery. Hand surgery has helped restore feeling and function to many patients, though recovery from hand surgery may be a long process, depending on the degree of work done.
There are a number of different techniques used to improve function or feeling in the hands. Some of these techniques include: Grafting – or taking healthy tissue, skin, bone or nerves from another part of the body and replacing it with the injured part. Flap Surgery – taking skin and its attached fat, blood vessels and muscles from the unhealthy part to the healthy part of the body. On the more extreme end, replantation or transplantation may used to restore fingers which have been amputated.
These days many people are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel occurs in someone who has be doing repetitive motions with their hands and wrists, people with rheumatoid arthritis, after injury or during pregnancy due to fluid retention. It occurs because pressure builds up in the tendons and nerves. Symptoms include loss of feeling in the fingers or hand, tingling, decreased strength and pain. For some people a splint to keep the pressure off will be enough to relieve their symptoms. For people with nerve damage or who experience no relief through the splint alone, surgery may be the best option. Surgery does not always work, though many people have had success with it.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another affliction which effects the function and feeling in the hands. Rheumatoid arthritis is the inflammation of joints that causes the joints in the fingers to deform which constricts their movement. Some patients are able to improve their condition through splints and physical therapy, but for other patients surgery may be the best option. While surgery for rheumatoid arthritis can improve function and relieve pain, it is not a cure for the condition.
The skin and tissue of the palm of the hand can be effected by such disorders as dupuytren’s contracture which causes scar-like tissue to form under the palm’s skin and can even continue out to the fingers, pulling them in towards the palm and limiting movement. Hand surgery can improve function and physical therapy will help that after the procedure as well. Surgery for this condition is off a very delicate nature since nerves may be intertwined in the abnormal tissue and sometimes skin grafts may also be utilized to help cover the damaged skin.
Syndactyly, which causes two or more fingers to be fused together, and other congenital deformities effected the hand can oftentimes be improved through hand surgery at a very early age. In the case of syndactyly, the plastic surgeon can simply cut the connecting tissue and use skin grafted from another area of the body to cover the damaged and lacking skin. Normal ability and function is nearly always restored, as well as a more normal appearance.
As with all surgery, there are always risks. It is important to discuss these risks with your plastic surgeon. Recovery time varies from patient to patient depending on the extend of work being done. There will be certain activity restrictions for you to follow in your recovery that your plastic surgeon will give you. It is important to follow these guidelines to ensure a safe and speedy recovery. Often physical therapy is a vital part of improving function in the hand after hand surgery and it is important to follow through with the therapy to reap the full benefits of the surgery.