There are few parts of our body we use more than our hands. When one or both hands have undergone trauma, it can cause severe interference at home and on the job. Board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. Christopher Livingston, specializes in hand reconstructive surgery to bring relief to his patients who have suffered an injury to these critical appendages.
Trauma Hand Surgery
Hand trauma encompasses a wide range of injuries from moderate to severe injury requiring extensive reconstruction of the hand and upper arm. The most common hand trauma conditions include the following:
- Hand pain
- Fractures of the fingers, hand, and wrist
- Tendon and ligament injuries
- Nerve and vessel injuries
- Simple and complex lacerations
- Crush injuries
- Joint damage
- Burn reconstruction
Most hand trauma patients who require surgery will need several weeks of immobilization with splints or casts followed by rehabilitation. With ten years of experience in hand trauma, the Livingston Plastic Surgery team will assist your every need in the recovery process.
Bones in the wrist, hand, and fingers can break from a fall or while playing sports. Trauma from a car accident can also cause such fractures. Breaks can range from simple fractures to complex when the bone shatters into many pieces. In some cases, the bone can pierce the skin.
Dr. Livingston treats a full range of hand and wrist fractures utilizing X-Ray or MRI to assess the injury and help determine the best course to take for correction. This procedure may include splinting and casting, closed reduction, open reduction, internal fixation, external fixation, or bone grafts.
As the wrist heals, it’s crucial to keep the fingers free and flexible unless there is another injury which would require the fingers to be immobilized. The finger could become stiff and hamper hand function otherwise.
Tendon and Ligament Injuries
Ligaments are fibrous bands of tissue that join bones together to stabilize joints (like the knuckle or wrist) during motion. An injury to these tendons can occur throughout the hand and wrist through blunt trauma like a fall, forceful lifting, or a twisting injury.
If the impact that caused the injury is from a high fall or automobile accident, the damage may be so severe a dislocation may have taken place. This trauma forces the bones out of natural alignment, producing deformity and pain. X-Rays will confirm the dislocation which requires immediate attention to realign the bones to their normal position. Surgery may be necessary as well.
Digital injuries (fingers) often result from a jamming sports-type injury or a fall which forces the finger to bend backward. Most digital injuries can be treated conservatively, with surgery being rare.
Some tendons have roles less significant than others. If a whole ligament is lost to an injury, Dr. Livingston can transfer less important tendons to replace injured ligament which has a more critical function.
Nerve and Vessel Injuries
The hand consists of four nerves which may be damaged due to injury. Nerve injury can cause numbness, pressure, and pain. It can also lead to loss of movement or functions.
Nerves and vessels of the fingers and hand are delicate, with some being very small. When injured by laceration or trauma, microsurgical techniques are necessary to repair such injuries requiring tedious precision and skill.
Although some nerves may heal on their own if bruised when a nerve is cut it will need surgery for repair. Recovery varies from patient to patient, depending on the nerve injured.
On occasion, bone sections may be missing or severely crushed producing a gap once the bone is re-aligned. In these cases, Dr. Livingston may perform a bone. This procedure involves bone taken from another part of the body to fill in the void. He may also use bone from a bone bank or a synthetic bone substitute.
Burn Reconstruction for Hands
The intricate nature of burn trauma requires Dr. Livingston to work through the crucial stage of the injury up to and including recovery. He uses a multifaceted approach which includes the most advanced techniques in wound and burn care, rehabilitation, and plastic and reconstructive surgery.
He closes burn wounds with early surgical interventions, a technique which is recognized as an essential component to improving the success rate with burn injuries. He also corrects deformity and dysfunction.
Recovery from Hand Surgery
Reconstruction results from hand surgery develop over time. Although there have been near miraculous outcomes from replantation and reconstruction, your results are not entirely predictable. Some trauma injuries may not be able to achieve complete and normal function.
Outcomes may not be fully realized for several months. With microsurgical procedures, 12 months is an appropriate time frame to reach full restoration.
Our hands are important to us and require the utmost care, especially when injured. When pain, inflammation, or discomfort persists, you should see a healthcare profession quickly. If there is trauma to the hand, wrists, or fingers, immediate evaluation and care are necessary.
The sooner your hands receive care after an injury the higher the chance of a full recovery.
Am I A Candidate for hand reconstruction?
Most patients who have suffered trauma to their upper arm extremities through trauma or burns is a suitable candidate for hand reconstructive surgery. The best way to see if plastic surgery can help is to schedule a consultation.
What Will Recovery Be Like?
Recovery will be unique to each patient and will depend on the type of injury, the extent of the injury, and the procedure necessary to correct the damage.
Will there be scarring?
Yes. In most cases, the patient is left with a scar. The extent, severity or length of the scar will depend on the incisions and how the patient heals.
To learn more about plastic and reconstructive surgery for wrists, hands, and fingers, request a consultation today with Dr. Livingston today.