Most hand operations are carried out under general anaesthetic although some can be carried out under local anaesthetic. Patients will often have some form of nerve block which means that when you wake up from the surgery some times the whole arm can be numb or else just the area that has been operated on is numb. This means that you have less pain following the operation. As the nerve block wears off you may require some pain killers to help with the pain of surgery.
Nearly all operations on the hand have stitches which usually come out about twelve days. There is often a scar which fades over time and because of the blood supply of the hand usually heals very well. Occasionally the scar can be a little tender so it is always advisable to rub in some moisturising cream when the wound is healed to keep the scar soft and supple.
The most important aspect of any hand surgical procedure is the function of the hand and to keep fingers and thumb moving to prevent swelling. For this patients are often encouraged to use a sling initially or to keep the hand propped up on pillows and just to move the fingers gently so as to prevent stiffness. Initially one needs to keep the hand wounds dry and often patients have quite a bulky bandage to protect the hand.
Patients are not usually able to drive until the wound is healed and sometimes for a bit longer if patients need to wear splints following their operation. After surgery some patients require hand therapy. This will be discussed prior to surgery and the therapist will usually contact patients shortly after their surgery to arrange a suitable appointment.
Most hand surgical procedures recover quite quickly in terms of wound healing but it can take many weeks, or sometimes even months to get the full benefits of surgery. This is particularly true for example, regaining grip strength and power of the hand.
There are risks with any surgical procedure and these will be discussed prior to the operation. Sometimes there is bleeding following the operation and this usually absorbs with time but occasionally patients get quite a lot of bruising around the hand and arm. Sometimes the scar is a little tender for which massage treatment is required. Occasionally there are some nerves near the site of surgery which can leave areas of numbness near the scar or occasionally hypersensitivity over the nerve.
As with any surgical procedure the operation may not cure all the symptoms or occasionally further surgical procedures are required. These points will all be discussed with you but if there are any questions please do not hesitate to ask a member of the team.