Many factors can contribute to your hand surgery recovery time and can vary greatly depending upon the complexity and type of surgery you’re undergoing. Your own individual body’s capacity for healing and your lifestyle habits also play a big role in your healing time after hand surgery.

Additionally, how well you follow your NJ hand doctor’s instructions before surgery and during recovery will also affect your hand surgery recovery time. Limiting stress can help you heal faster and improves your overall health.

Expert Hand Surgeons Produce Consistently Excellent Outcomes–and Shorten Recovery

The good news for patients is that hand surgery is very safe when performed by an expert hand surgeon. The best hand surgeons will also ensure, through careful surgical planning and superb surgical technique, that your recovery is uneventful and your hand surgery recovery time is as quick as possible.

An expert northern NJ hand surgeon will clearly explain any surgical risks. The best hand surgeons are able to minimize complications and ensure consistently favorable hand surgery outcomes by implementing precise surgical techniques. This gentle precision will allow your hands to recover quickly.

Meet Dr. Yueh, our hand surgery specialist


Common Reasons for Hand Surgery

Surgery is not usually the first line of treatment for many of the problems below. However, if non-surgical treatments have been unsuccessful, surgery may be recommended. Your hand surgeon can advise you if hand surgery is appropriate at this time and provide options. Different healing times are needed for:

  • Repetitive stress injury: Carpal tunnel release is an example of a common problem and surgical solution. (See below.)
  • Osteoarthritis, wear and tear on hand, finger and thumb joints: Surgical treatment can include fusing bones around an arthritic joint or reconstructing joint cartilage with soft tissue from other body areas.
  • Rheumatic changes: Due to arthritis, causing chronic pain, inflammation and restricted movement.
  • Hand trauma due to an accident: May necessitate skin grafts, amputation or reconstruction/reattachment of a finger.
  • Nerve damage: Can occur due to trauma or disease. Surgery may involve nerve reattachment or grafting.
  • Tendon damage: Can occur due to trauma or disease; surgery reconnects the tendon if it was severed and grafting may be needed. Recovery can take 2 to 3 months. A splint and physical therapy may be needed.
  • Knuckle joint (MCP joint) replacement: Called arthroplasty, this is sometimes done to correct damage from rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Recovery can take 3 months or more. A splint and physical therapy will be needed.
  • Synovectomy: Removal of inflamed synovial tissue (membrane surrounding inflamed joints) to alleviate RA symptoms. Often done along with arthroscopy (minimally invasive joint surgery).
  • Trapeziectomy: Removal of the trapezium bone in your wrist, located at the base of the thumb, may be needed due to arthritis. Your wrist and thumb may be immobilized for 3 to 6 weeks. In some cases, this is done to allow scar tissue growth to fill the gap left after bone removal. Exercises and physical therapy will help you return to your normal activity level gradually over the next few months.
  • Removal of ganglion cysts: Cysts may occur due to leakage of joint fluid, forming cysts in patients with osteoarthritis. Removal or pressure relief is often done with a needle as a minor procedure, but cysts may return. You can go back to normal activities almost immediately.
  • Congenital deformities present from birth: There is a wide variety of issues and treatment solutions.
  • And more.

Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery: Recovery Highlights

Carpal tunnel surgery is one of the most common hand surgeries, which helps correct pain, numbness or tingling and restricted movement in the hand, fingers, wrist and forearm. Pressure on the median nerve (passing through the wrist under the carpal ligament) is relieved by releasing/splitting the ligament under local anesthesia. Recovery is generally quite quick.

Patients can typically return to their routine, daily activity on the same day as surgery. Short sessions of typing and light gripping practice will help the healing process. In about one week, any bandage is removed. From this point on, your incision can be washed normally but should remain covered by a Band-Aid.

Avoid submerging your hand in water for about 3 weeks. For instance, avoid swimming, tub bathing, washing dishes or clothing by hand for about 3 weeks. Lifting or carrying heavy objects, performing household chores, manual labor and heavy gripping should be avoided for approximately 4 weeks.

Tips for Speedy Hand Surgery Recovery Time

Start with making your hand surgeon selection a top priority—and the rest will be much easier. With a top Bergen County hand surgeon, you can expect your hands to function better after hand surgery, with little to no pain, improved range of motion or nerve function, depending upon the reason for, and goals of, your surgery.

When you select a hand surgeon with aesthetic training, your hands will also look healthy with only a small scar, well hidden in the natural creases of your hand. And most importantly, your hand function, grip strength and dexterity will be improved.

Your Research Can Shorten Hand Surgery Recovery Time

Research: you’re doing it right! It may surprise you to know that the research you are doing now, prior to your hand surgery, can help to speed up your recovery process. Careful research on hand surgery procedures and research to ensure that you choose an excellent surgeon–both of these preparatory steps will lower your risk and enhance your outcome of hand surgery.

A well-qualified and dedicated hand surgeon will guide you in understanding your options. Being confident in your choice of surgeon will also help you feel confident going into your procedure, and shorten your hand surgery recovering time.

Reduce Stress for the Best Surgical Outcomes

Limit stress going into hand surgery by learning about your procedure up front, with assistance from an expert NJ hand surgeon. Practice stress relief activities such as moderate exercise, meditation or yoga, socializing with friends and any other healthy habits that work for you.

You’ll also relieve stress and anxiety by taking the time to select the best hand surgeon: a well-qualified, experienced surgeon should also be one with whom you communicate well and in whom you feel confident in placing your trust.

Excellent Preparation = Quick Healing from Hand Surgery

Your overall physical and emotional health, as mentioned, greatly affect your hand surgery recovery time. If you’re having hand surgery for a problem brought on by diabetes, for example, you may heal a bit more slowly than average due to your health condition.

If your blood sugar is well controlled, however, your recovery period can be just about average. In preparation, your hand surgeon will want to be sure your blood sugar is under control before your surgery.

Closely Follow Pre and Post Surgery Instructions to Speed Hand Surgery Healing

You may be instructed to do hand exercises or attend physical therapy as part of your hand surgery recovery. You will also be cautioned not to return to certain strenuous activities until you’re given the OK by your NJ hand specialist.

Be sure to follow these guidelines, as well as all other directions from your surgeon in order to lessen your hand surgery recovery time. If you need clarification or don’t understand any surgical instructions, don’t hesitate to ask your surgeon. Pre- and post-surgery instructions may include:

Stop Smoking (if applicable)

Smokers tend to heal more slowly than non-smokers, so your hand surgeon will ask you to quit well in advance of hand surgery to give your body the best chance for proper healing. Ideally, you should not smoke for a few months after surgery—and quitting for good would be the best choice. (Why not take this opportunity of “enforced” smoking cessation to kick-start your will-power to help you quit smoking?)

Elevate Your Hand

Elevating your hand to a level just above your heart will help to minimize swelling.

Watch for Signs of Proper Healing

You will be given a customized list of signs to watch for during your hand surgery recovery time. It will include things like keeping an eye on the color of your skin and the feeling in your hand. This helps to ensure that your hand and fingers are getting proper circulation and staying warm, as they should.

If you notice any problems, it could mean the splint or bandage is too tight. If you experience a high temperature, excess bleeding, swelling or pain, contact your surgeon.

Infection is a rare complication of hand surgery. Your surgeon is the person best able to help you avoid any serious recovery problems. Any time there is something concerning you, even if it’s a slight concern, always call your surgeon right away.

Keep Moving to Avoid Stiffness

Once your doctor gives the OK (this can sometimes be immediately following surgery) begin moving your fingers and hand to encourage circulation and keep stiffness at bay. This will be sure to shorten hand surgery recovery time.

Don’t Submerge Your Hand

Don’t go swimming or keep your hand under water until your surgeon gives you permission. Keep the hand (and dressing or splint) clean and dry.

What About Itching after Hand Surgery?

If your cast, splint or bandage itch, please don’t stick anything underneath to scratch. Any scratching might injure your skin (without you realizing) and lead to infection. For itch relief try using a hair dryer set on cool to fan your skin. You could also try taking an oral, over the counter antihistamine, like Benadryl.

Don’t Go Back to Full Activity Too Early

Doing so could injure or re-injure your hand, lengthen overall recovery or reverse any improvements made by your surgery.

Contact Cohen/Winters to Learn More

To learn more about how hand surgery may help you regain full, pain-free use of your hands, contact Cohen/Winters Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery in Bergen County for a consultation today.

hand surgeon NJ

Dr. Yueh

About Dr. Yueh

Dr. Janet H. Yueh specializes in hand surgery including Trigger Finger, Basal Joint Arthritis, Carpal Tunnel and Tendonitis. Dr. Yueh did her undergraduate work at Harvard University in Cambridge where she graduated magna cum laude. She continued her education at Harvard Medical School where she earned her M.D.