You’ve found them! Ok, it’s not really that easy to find the best hand surgeon for yourself or a loved one.
Here at Cohen/Winters we take pride in being two of the best plastic surgeons and hand surgeons in the country. But that doesn’t mean we are the best hand surgeons for everyone.
As plastic and reconstructive surgeons, we are completely dedicated to the success of our patients. We are lucky enough to be rewarded nearly daily by smiles from our patients, saying that their lives are improved by our work.
So How Can We Help?
Since we have been privileged to do work in a field we love, we believe that the least we can do is to help you find the best hand surgeon in NJ–who is also the right hand surgeon for you.
We’re determined to help you regain full use of your hands, help eliminate the effects of hand injury, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, tendonitis or debilitating degenerative disease such as arthritis. We are determined to help you improve your quality of life and find relief from pain–even if we do so only with some expert advice.
Finding the Best Hand Surgeon: Set the Bar High
You deserve the very best care, so give yourself the time to find the best surgeon to perform your hand surgery. From among the elite group of excellent, well-educated, experienced and dedicated hand surgeons you learn of, you owe it to yourself to choose the one who is right for you. This boils down to, all else being equal, going with the surgeon that you trust.
Trust is somewhat of an intangible element, but it generally means choosing the surgeon who sees you as a human being and treats the whole person, rather than seeing you only as a relatively anonymous “case.”
The best hand surgeons will talk with you, rather than talking at you or being extremely vague. We believe hand surgeons should partner with their patients for a successful result.
Choosing a Hand Surgeon in NJ: The Trust Factor
Some patients don’t realize how much choice they have when selecting the best surgeon for their treatment. Sure, insurance may place limitations on your range of choice, however if you and your surgeon really are well-suited, the surgeon may be able to work with your insurance company.
The point is: try to choose the best hand surgeons without regard to other considerations. You will learn a lot, even from great hand surgeons who don’t end up doing your hand surgery.
The surgeon you ultimately trust and place your full confidence in will be someone with whom you communicate well. This generally won’t be the surgeon who rushes you to make a choice, who fails to explain your options and who is mysterious about how much improvement can be achieved with the surgery.
You need an eminently qualified surgeon with years of experience–because hand surgery is complex and delicate—but you also need the trust factor. The great thing about trust is, you will know.
After meeting with an eminently qualified hand surgeon with whom you have excellent rapport and who has gained your confidence, well…you’ll know it when you see it.
Start with the Best in the Field of Hand Surgery
Before you get to the trust factor, of course, you must do some objective research to find the NJ-area reconstructive hand surgeon with the very best, in fact impeccable, credentials.
We realize that it can be difficult for a non-surgeon to evaluate medical credentials—after all, those diplomas on the wall and important-sounding titles all seem kind of impressive. Learn from our experience as expert surgeons how to identify the best in the field.
Here is our insider’s list of essentials that make for an excellent hand surgeon in NJ or anywhere in the world:
- Look for Quality Medical Education: Look for a board certified plastic surgeon who attended a top tier medical school in the US. By the way, many surgeons use the term “board certified” loosely. When you choose a hand surgeon, make sure the individual is not over-stating their credentials. Their certification must be in both general surgery and plastic surgery. This means you are getting someone with years of comprehensive medical and surgical training. Plastic surgeons typically understand aesthetics, which are important in hand surgery—so that’s why we advise seeking this certification specifically.
- Sort Out Board Certification: Don’t be confused by terminology. Your chosen hand surgeons must be board certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties and the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Verify certification of a surgeon you are considering by visiting the CertificationMatters website or the American Board of Plastic Surgery website. If your Bergen County surgeon does not have this specific certification, you can’t be certain that your surgeon well qualified to perform complex hand surgery.
- Evaluate a Surgeon’s Experience: It takes at least 5 years of experience, after residency is completed (and preferably longer) to become a skilled hand surgeon. You should check the dates of the surgeon’s education and licensure when you look them up with the State of NJ online. Make sure the surgeon has had time to have gained 5+ years of experience in their own practice. Later, you will ask your plastic surgeon how many hand surgery procedures like yours he or she has done this year or in the last year. All this information should match up.
- Seek Advanced Surgical Qualifications: Look for a reconstructive hand surgeon. This individual will have the most detailed understanding of the anatomy and function of the hands, wrists and fingers–essential for the very best outcome from your hand surgery.
- Look for Current Experience: If possible, select a hand surgeon affiliated with a university or teaching hospital, provided they have those years of experience discussed above. This surgeon is likely to have taught or mentored other surgeons in the field of hand surgery. You will be asking your surgeon how often he performs hand surgery in your meeting. You should choose a NJ plastic surgeon who dedicates a large percentage of their time to hand surgery and whose experience is recent/current.
- Expect Surgical Privileges: These provide extra quality assurance about your hand surgeon, since a history of excellent performance is required to be maintain privileges at a renowned NJ hospital, such as Hackensack University Medical Center.
- Consider Referrals and Reputation: Look at the surgeon’s website for information about their background. You can verify or get more details in your consultation. (Write down what you might want to ask about.) Check out reviews online, but remember this is only somewhat revealing. There are a lot of fake reviews and sometimes reviews are posted of the wrong doctor—one with a similar last name. You can check for any sanctions from the medical board while checking for state medical licensure with the New Jersey Consumer Affairs Department. Also, you can ask your hand surgeon if you can speak to a recent patient to get a good insight into your future surgery.
At the Consultation: What to Ask and Look For in a Great Hand Surgeon
Ask your hand surgeons these questions during your consultation to verify what you’ve found from your research and to evaluate whether you and the surgeon are well suited to work together:
- How many complex hand surgeries have you performed in the past year? How many with my specific procedure?
- What’s wrong with my hand specifically?
- How will you correct the problem?
- Will I have greater range of motion after my hand surgery? Greater strength?
- What percentage of improvement is possible?
- What will happen if I don’t have hand surgery?
- How long is the recovery period after my hand surgery?
- Will I have continued hand pain or stiffness after healing from the surgery?
- What risks and complications are most common with my needed hand surgery? Will I require a second hand surgery?
- Am I a good candidate for this particular hand surgery procedure?
- Where is the surgery to be performed?
- What type of anesthesia will be used?
- Will I have scars?
- How much time must I take off from work?
- Add your questions to the list.
If you’re suffering from recurring pain and swelling in your hands, hand weakness or partial contracture of the digits, see a qualified hand surgeon to learn about your options.
At Cohen/Winters, we are dedicated to helping you avoid joint disfigurement and correcting existing problems and restoring movement to the wrist, fingers, palm and/or thumb.
For an assessment of your specific condition, contact our offices in Bergen County for an in-person consultation.