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What warning signs should I look out for after hand reconstructive surgery?

Some postoperative symptoms are expected after hand reconstructive surgery. There are nonetheless some you should watch out for as they might indicate complications.

Following hand reconstructive surgery, you may experience a series of complications, despite there being a highly qualified plastic surgeon performing the procedure.

Get in touch with your doctor right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • severe swelling
  • vomiting
  • redness going up the arm
  • increasing numbness or tingling
  • excessive warmth around the surgical site
  • excessive bleeding soaking the bandage
  • increasing pain or infections that don’t improve with medication
  • fever: body temperature exceeding 100°F
  • abnormal skin color: might indicate circulation problems
  • bruising that doesn’t fade: might be a sign of blood vessels or soft tissue damage

Postoperative changes to expect after hand reconstructive surgery

The first symptom that you will encounter after the hand reconstruction is swelling, which is perfectly normal for the first week.

Other potential side-effects of surgery include:

  • scarring
  • hypersensitivity
  • cold intolerance
  • circulation-related problems
  • general soreness: decreases daily
  • stiffness: might take up to six months to loosen up scar tissue
  • bruising: might take up to two weeks to go away
  • numbness along the incision area: following anesthesia

To manage these symptoms, your doctor will tell you what joints and tendons it’s safe to move.

Typically, patients should keep their arm elevated above the heart level in the first days after this surgery so that the swelling and pain don’t become more intense.

Preventing complications through post-surgery care

Elevating your arm and hand for up to five days certainly does help minimize pain, but there are different methods to keep your symptoms under control, such as:

  • place some extra pillows around all areas where you sit
  • keep your bandage dry and your wound clean
  • gently move your fingers if they are left free of the dressing: decreases stiffness
  • holding an ice pack under your arm: reduces swelling and discomfort
  • wear gloves if you experience cold intolerance
  • take your medication

It is advisable to adopt an appropriate self-care routine to maximize your results, including plenty of rest, relaxation, and a balanced diet. Follow your treating specialist’s instructions for a swift recovery.


Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/