Following Minor Hand Surgery

Following your operation, the hand will be bandaged with wool and crepe, for at least 2-3 days depending on exact type of procedure that you had. The dressing minimises swelling and makes you feel more comfortable as the wound is protected and the hand gently immobilised. The bandage should remain intact and dry for 2-5 days and I will specify the duration after operation as this varies between the procedures. You hand should be elevated, especially in the first 48 hours so that the wrist is above elbow level. A sling will be useful in obtaining this during daytime whereas at night, keep you arm well elevated on pillows. Please remember not to keep the hand hanging down!

You might experience mild pain/discomfort once the local anaesthetic has worn off (most commonly 4-6 hours after the operation). Feel free to take the painkillers (like paracetamol or co-codamol), but according to the majority of patients, this is seldom required. Remember to move your fingers, elbow and shoulder joints in order to prevent stiffness. Within the hand bandage, try the following finger exercises as soon as possible:

  • straightening the fingers completely
  • making a claw and a fist with the fingers
  • spreading the fingers as wide as possible
  • touch each of your fingertips with the tip of your thumb

After 5 days you may remove all the dressings and apply a self adhesive dressing over the operated area. Do not worry if the wound gets slightly wet during a shower or a bath soon after surgery. Just let it dry up and reapply the dressing. In the first week the wound is usually slightly bruised and swollen, but there should not be a marked redness or tenderness indicating infection.

At no time after surgery your fingers should become numb, cold or discoloured. If you experience any of above mentioned symptoms please do not hesitate to contact us, the hospital or your GP practice.

Timing of your return to work is variable according to your occupation and this is usually discussed before the surgery.

Your wound should heal within 12-14 days. If non-absorbable (non-dissolving) stitches have been used the nurse will advice you when and where to have the sutures removed. If the wound has been closed using an absorbable/dissolving stitches, only wound check will be arranged, usually with your GP, after 7-10 days.

Although the wound heals within the first two weeks after surgery, the scar continues to change for up to 12 months. In the first 6 weeks it is often pink/red, firm and tender. This is normal and a regular use of (a simple skin) moisturiser and scar massage might speed up the scar maturation and your recovery. Scar washing (soap and water) and moisturising is encouraged as soon as the wound has healed.

If you have regained full movement and are reasonably comfortable without the dressings, you may drive a car after one week. You should not drive whilst your hand is bandaged and splinted. It is therefore essential to have someone to drive you home and help while you arm is in a sling.

If you have any problems following your surgery please contact:

  • Hospital where you were operated:
    – Ashtead 01372 221 442; St Anthony’s 020 8337 6691 ; Parkside 020 8971 8000
  • Your GP practice
  • My secretary on 0845 026 7776 (Monday – Friday; 8.30 – 18.00)

Following Minor Hand Surgery