Choosing a hand doctor is a very personal decision. The best hand surgeon for you might be different than the best for another person, even if you’re both being treated for the same condition and/or having the exact same surgery. Before selecting the best hand doctor for you, of course, you need to make sure your surgeon has certain minimum qualifications.
You should set the bar very high, because hand surgery is complex and hand function is so important to your everyday life. Choosing a highly qualified and experienced surgeon can produce a better outcome—and you deserve the best possible results from your hand surgery. Getting the answers to the following questions will help you make a sound decision about your hand surgery—and your surgeon.
1. Ask about Qualifications
First, ask questions to learn about your NJ hand doctor’s education and qualifications. You have likely done research into your surgeon’s education, training, board certifications and licensure, but feel free to ask about these details in person as well. By discussing your surgeon’s background with him or her, you will establish a foundation for trust and get to know the hand surgeon better.
- Are you board certified? In which medical or surgical specialties?
- Where did you receive your medical education and training?
- Do you have experience in plastic surgery? Orthopedic surgery? Reconstructive surgery?
2. Ask about Experience
Experience is a great predictor of success in any kind of surgery, especially complex hand surgery. You should ask questions to determine how much experience your New Jersey hand doctor has amassed, such as:
- Do you perform hand surgery for (insert your hand ailment or injury here) on a regular basis?
- How many years’ experience have you had in treating my condition? How many times have you done this operation?
- What is your success rate with the procedure? What is the rate of complications? How is the most common complication handled?
- Do you have surgical privileges at a nearby NJ hospital?
3. Ask about the Surgical Facility
When meeting with your hand doctor, you should also ask questions about the surgery facility where your hand surgery is to be performed. You should ask:
- Will my surgery be performed in the office, in a NJ surgical center or a hospital operating room?
- Is the surgical facility accredited?
- What type of anesthesia should be used?
4. Ask about Medical Support Staff
It’s helpful to learn about your NJ hand doctor’s support staff who will take part in your care. You could ask:
- Who else will be providing patient care in your practice?
- Who will remove stitches and perform follow up exams during the healing process? (Other surgeons in the practice, Physician’s Assistants and/or RNs may assist your surgeon or perform duties supervised by your hand surgeon. Some surgeons will handle all of your care personally.)
5. Ask Questions about Your Specific Procedure
You’ll also want to ask questions about the specific recommended hand surgery procedure, including:
- Would you recommend hand surgery at this time?
- What type of procedure will benefit me most?
- Are there options for other surgeries or methods?
- Are you available for follow-up questions between now and my surgery date?
6. Ask about Surgical Risks
Hand surgery is typically very safe, but like any other surgery, there are risks. You should ask your NJ hand doctor:
- What are the risks and possible complications of this procedure for someone of my age and health condition? How are these risks minimized? How are complications handled if they occur?
- What results can I expect? What is the most likely result? What are the best- and worst-case scenarios?
- How will my hand surgery be performed?
- What type of anesthesia is best? (General anesthesia is often not needed in hand surgery.) How aware will I be during surgery?
- How will I be monitored during my hand surgery?
- Will I need any special preparation for surgery, such as medical tests, blood donation or a change in my routine medications or vitamins/supplements?
7. Ask Your NJ Hand Doctor about Preparation
- Will I need any special preparation for surgery, such as medical tests or a change in my medications or vitamins/supplements? (Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are typically required, if applicable.)
8. Ask about Your Hand Surgery Recovery
Find out what kind of plans you should make for being off work and what you’ll need to do in order to recover quickly and get the most benefit from your hand surgery. Ask your NJ hand doctor:
- What can I expect for my recovery? (You won’t need to remember all the details now, since your surgeon will instruct you in detail before surgery and provide written instructions as well.)
- Will I need pain medication? For how long is medication typically needed?
- What can I do to speed my recovery? (This may include propping the hand above the heart to diminish swelling or moving the fingers to aid circulation in the early recovery period. Eating right will be important to keep healing on track. Doing specific exercises to increase dexterity and strength may be required later in the recovery period, for example.)
- Will I need to see a physical therapist?
- How much time off will I need to recover from my hand surgery?
- When can I resume to my regular activities (lifting, driving and exercise)?
9. Ask about the Likelihood of a Second Surgery
- Will or could my condition continue after surgery, so that more surgery may be needed in future to correct the problem again?
- Could the surgery fail, necessitating a repeat surgery to get the desired result? What is the failure rate of my hand surgery procedure?
- Is this a staged procedure, where a 2nd surgery is part of the treatment plan?
10. Ask about the Cost of Your Hand Surgery
Your hand surgeon should be happy to answer questions about cost. Cost is a concern for every patient, so never be shy about asking. If a hand doctor in New Jersey is reluctant to answer these questions, he or she may not be the right surgeon for you. You should find out:
- What is the cost of my surgery?
- Are follow up visits included? If so, how many and over what period of time?
- Do you accept insurance? What companies or types (PPO, Medicare, etc.) do you accept?
Schedule a Consultation at Cohen/Winters
When you’re ready to get your hand surgery questions answered, it’s time to meet with an expert hand surgeon in New Jersey. Dr. Janet Yueh, our hand surgery specialist at Cohen/Winters Aesthetic & Reconstructive Surgery in Bergen County, will be happy to help you. Dr. Yueh will evaluate your condition, help determine how hand surgery might benefit you and answer all your questions.