Skin flaps and grafts
Skin grafts replace or attach skin to an area where it is missing. Whether it be covering a finger that was amputated or a burn injury, the procedure is done by using a piece of healthy skin from another area of the body, which is called a donor site. The skin is then used to cover the needed area. Flaps relate in terms of using a donor site but differ by including the removal of the muscle, blood vessels, and fat that can be found underneath the skin. This allows the flap to have its own blood supply and can be useful if the area needing coverage lacks its own supply of blood.
While some nerve injuries can heal on their own, most often they cannot. This procedure can help regain feeling in your hand if you are experiencing a loss of feeling. This is often done quickly after an injury. The most common procedure includes reattaching nerves in hopes of restoring full feeling in the hand and fingers.
Tendons are the tools our bodies use to link our muscles and our bones together. When they are torn or severed, it can cause extreme pain. Primary tendon repair happens almost immediately after an injury occurs to repair the tendon. They can be extremely tricky to repair due to the complexity of our tendons but are vital to our functionality as humans.
Increased swelling or pressure, also known as compartment syndrome, is dangerous in that swelling can block blood supply to certain parts of the body. Our hands can be hypersensitive to this because they are smaller body parts and more easily affected, and can cause loss of function. This is usually fixed by creating a small incision to release the pressure.
More widely known as joint replacement, arthroplasty is vital to those experiencing extreme arthritis. Doctors will replace the damaged joint by creating a new joint. This new joint can be sourced from different materials, including plastic, metal, silicone, or even other body tissue.
Possibly the most important of hand surgeries, replantation is used to reattach parts of the hand that has been completely severed. Often using microsurgery, this tactful procedure is done under a microscope, with restoring full functionality being the primary goal.
Experiencing hand pain and think you may need surgery? Tweet Dr. Arnold Weiss for more information or talk to your doctor about setting up a consultation. Dr. Arnold Peter Weiss is the R. Scot Sellers Scholar of Hand Surgery; Chief of Hand Surgery; Vice Chairman & Professor, Brown University.