Hand Surgeons Explain What to Expect During & After Surgery
Hand surgery falls into two categories, elective and emergency. While emergency surgery is done to preserve hand function following a serious incident or injury, elective surgery allows the patient a choice about the surgery, as well as time to discuss their options with a hand surgeon.
What to expect during and after surgery will depend greatly on the type of surgery, the extent of damage before surgery, the patient’s health and response to surgery, and how well they take care of themselves post-operatively.
Preparing for Hand Surgery
What you do for several weeks before surgery can make a difference in the quality of your results and speed of your recovery.
Eating well balanced meals, staying hydrated, and getting sufficient sleep and exercise, in the weeks before surgery will put your body in the best shape to tolerate and recover from any surgery. Make sure your hand surgeon is aware of every medication, vitamin, and dietary or herbal supplement you are taking. You may need to quit taking some or all of them before your surgery.
Hopefully you are not a smoker. But I you are, now is a good time to quite because smoking can increase the risk of blood clots and delay healing. Smoking can also result in more noticeable scarring. If you can’t quit smoking a few weeks or months before hand surgery on your own, ask your doctor for help.
You will also be given specific instructions by your hand surgeon about what and when you can eat and drink on the actual day of surgery.
Pain after Hand Surgery
While many hand surgeries reduce or completely eliminate the ongoing hand pain from underlying conditions, there is often temporary pain from the surgery itself.
Pain is a normal and natural response to surgery, caused by the incision, swelling, bruising and disruption of tissue. Your hand surgeon will supply you with a prescription for pain management while you heal.
Rest assured that the temporary pain from the surgery is far worth it to be free of the long-term pain, damage and deformity of the condition being treated.
Swelling after Hand Surgery
Swelling is also a natural body process during healing and recovery. Fortunately, there is a lot patients can do to effectively minimize swelling.
Gravity can help or hinder swelling during hand surgery recovery. Keep the operated area elevated above the heart as constantly as possible, so that gravity will pull the fluid accumulation away from the surgical site. This will help reduce swelling, as well as pain and stiffness.
Massage, as allowed by your surgeon, can also help fluids drain away from the surgical site. Gently massage away from the incision toward the heart, on top of bandages – if allowed by your surgeon.
Infection after Hand Surgery
As with any surgery, there can occasionally be complications such as infection. In many cases the patient will be prescribed antibiotics to minimize any risk of post-surgical infection.
However, it is very important that the patient follow any wound care and cleaning instructions provided by their hand surgeon, as well. Protecting the area from dirt, germs and moisture is essential to avoiding infection.
If there is an increase (rather than decrease) in pain, swelling and/or redness at or near the surgical site, contact your hand surgeon – or head to an urgent care if the surgeon is not available.
How Long Recovery from Hand Surgery Takes
The amount of time a patient needs to recover will depend in large part upon:
The type of hand surgery
The age & overall health of the patient
How well the patient follows post-surgical care
During your recovery from hand surgery, your surgeon and your hand therapist will work closely with you to ease your symptoms, manage and pain, and ensure a full recovery.
Top Detroit Area Hand Surgeons
If you live in the Detroit area and are suffering from pain or injury in the fingers, had or wrist contact board certified hand surgeon Dr. Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with most medical conditions, early detection, awareness, and a prevention or rapid treatment plan is the most effective way to eliminate pain and heal injuries.