Clinical Hub,Patient Education,Health and Nutrition Facts For You,Reconstructive, Cosmetic Surgery

Home Care after Hand Surgery For Plastic Surgery Patients (4265)

Home Care after Hand Surgery For Plastic Surgery Patients (4265) - Clinical Hub, Patient Education, Health and Nutrition Facts For You, Reconstructive, Cosmetic Surgery


Home Care after Hand Surgery
For Plastic Surgery Patients

This handout was written to help you care
for yourself at home after hand surgery. A
nurse will review this with you. If you have
any questions or concerns after you go
home, please call the numbers at the end of
this handout.

Your surgery was done to return your hand
to the best possible level of function.
Healing time varies with each patient.

Making Yourself Comfortable

You may need to use narcotic pain medicine
at home. If keeping your arm up does not
reduce pain and swelling, use pain medicine
as ordered. Over time, you should no longer
need pain medicine. Keep in mind that the
medicine may cause you to be lightheaded,
unsteady on your feet and/or constipated.
Do not do things that require coordination
when you are taking narcotic pain medicine.

Daily Care

Caring for Your Incision
Caring for your incision helps prevent
infection. Below are steps to follow to
take care of your incision. If you have a
cast, you will also be given a handout on
cast care.

 In most cases, a dry dressing with an
ace bandage will cover your incision
until you see your doctor. The
dressings should be kept dry and

 Do not remove your ace wrap or
splint unless you've been told to do

 To keep your dressing or cast dry
when you shower, wrap a plastic
bag around your hand or arm to
keep the dressing or cast dry. Then
use adhesive tape to seal the edge
and keep the bag in place.

 Wear loose fitting clothing that is
easy to fit or slip over your cast or
ace wrap. Sweat suits or cuffed-
sleeved shirts work well.

Taking your Temperature
 Check your temperature daily for 1

Checking your Fingers
 Some of the numbness and tingling
you had before surgery may still be
present. This should go away over a
period of weeks. There may be
some discoloration after the surgery.


 Check your fingers twice a day. Be
alert to changes. Watch for:
 Increased swelling
 Increased numbness
 Increased tingling
 Decreased warmth
If you notice any of these signs, call your
doctor right away.

Reduce Swelling

When you are up more and use your hand
and arm, you may have some swelling and
soreness in your hand. This is normal.
Keep your arm raised and the swelling will
decrease. Wear your sling when you're up.
Raise your arm when you're resting. Your
hand should always be above your heart.

To wear the sling:
 Keep your elbow low, near your
 Adjust the sling so that your hand is
elevated across your chest - almost to
the opposite shoulder.

Activity Level

Common sense will tell you when you
overdo it. Yet, too little activity can delay
the return of your strength and stamina.

Continue doing your exercises. They are
needed to recover. You will most likely not
be able to move your fingers or use your
hand for 3 weeks. Then you will work with
the therapists to slowly regain your strength
and coordination.

You will be given special instructions about
 Doing housework.
 Driving a car.
 When you can return to work or
school. The length of time needed
before you can return to work varies,
depending on your recovery and the
type of work you do.
 Doing light or strenuous activities.

Eating & Drinking

Eat a light meal the first night you are home.
Then resume your usual eating habits.

Drink at least two 8-ounce glasses of fluid
your first night home.

Do not drink any alcohol for 48 hours or
until you stop taking pain medicine.
Alcohol does not mix well with pain
medicine and may make you sick.

When to Call the Doctor

 If there is drainage from your
incision. Be ready to tell what the
drainage looks like and the amount.
 If your incision becomes more
painful, red and/or swollen.
 If you notice increased swelling,
numbness, tingling, or decreased
warmth in your fingers.
 If your temperature goes above
100.5 θF.
 If your cast becomes wet and
changes shape, moves or breaks


Follow-Up Clinic Visits

You will return to see your doctor on at _____________

Depending on your surgery and healing, your doctor will have you see the therapists for
strengthening and coordination exercises. Your doctor and nurse will talk with you about
exercise at your clinic visit.

Phone Numbers

You are welcome to call anytime you have questions about your surgery.

Your doctor's name is ; the office number is
(608) 263-7502, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., weekdays.

After hours and weekends, the clinic number will give you the hospital paging operator. Ask for
plastic surgery resident on-call. Leave your name and phone number with the area code. The
doctor will call you back.

If you live outside of the area call: Toll free number: 1 (800) 323-8942

Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you
have any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This
is not medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each
person’s health needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using
this information. If you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 2/2017 University of Wisconsin Hospitals
and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4265