What to Expect After Hand Surgery

Georgia Hand, Shoulder, and Elbow

If you are due to have hand surgery to treat a current hand or wrist condition, then you likely will want to know what to expect after surgery. This article explains some things you need to know for a smooth recovery. You will learn about recovery times, how to reduce swelling, and how to care for your wound.

The orthopedic surgeons at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow are on hand to help you through recovery from hand surgery. You can book a consultation with one of our orthopedic surgeons in Marietta or Atlanta, Georgia today!

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What is Hand Surgery?

Hand surgery is a type of treatment used to manage various hand conditions. A hand surgeon is skilled at performing reconstructive procedures, such as tendon repair or arthroscopic procedures used to diagnose or treat joint problems.

The goal of hand surgery is to preserve or restore function in the hands by addressing the underlying medical condition causing the pain or disability. Hand surgeons are familiar with a variety of techniques and technologies, including endoscopy, ultrasound, radiographs, neurologic testing, and physical therapy.

Overall, if you are experiencing hand pain or disability due to an injury or medical condition, it is important to see an experienced hand specialist who can help diagnose your problem and provide you with treatment options best suited to your individual needs.

Post Operative Care

Your surgeon will give you the post-operative care instructions you need to make a full recovery. You can expect to experience mild to moderate pain after your hand surgery. Your surgeon will inform you when and how much pain medication to take. He will also tell you how long the bandages and splints should be used.

A successful rehabilitation will depend on following the instructions given to you. A trained specialist may guide you through physical therapy, occupational therapy, heat therapy, or massage. You will likely be given exercises to do at home, which you should also follow.

What is the Recovery Time After Hand Surgery?

The recovery period after hand surgery is variable and depends on many factors. It is a process and having patience during this phase is key. Simple procedures may only take a few days, whereas more complex procedures may take many months to recover. Your surgeon will guide you through the process.

Hand Surgery Recovery Stages

Recovery from hand surgery will occur in stages, which could involve the following timeline:

  • You will be instructed on how long to keep your initial bandage in place. 
  • Depending on the surgical procedure, physical or occupational therapy may be recommended to hasten your recovery.
  • You’ll return to the office after surgery as instructed by your doctor for wound evaluation and suture removal when appropriate, 
  • Your doctor and caregiving team will guide you through this process. Their goal is the same as yours: to give you the best result so you can safely return to your activities as soon as possible. 

How to Help the Healing Process

Studies have shown that remaining positive during your recovery period has helped improve the recovery time from hand surgery.

Smoking and drinking alcohol will slow down the recovery time and should be avoided. Smoking affects your ability to heal after surgery. Alcohol can affect your sleep. Sleep helps your body to heal and also keeps your immune system healthy.

During your recovery, you may need to do exercises to increase your range of motion. Make sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions about how much to do. If you overload your hand too soon, you could cause problems during recovery.  

How to Reduce Swelling from Hand Surgery

During recovery from hand surgery, you will want to reduce the swelling in your hand. Excessive swelling can cause the surgical wound to reopen and cause more hand pain.

A simple way to reduce the swelling is by elevating your hand above the heart level. You should try to do this as much as possible for the first 2 days post-surgery.

Wound Care After Hand Surgery

Keep the bandage clean and dry until instructed otherwise by your doctor. Some surgical procedures also require that you use a splint or a brace to assist in recovery.

You may be instructed to use a plastic bag to keep the surgical site dry while you shower.

Contact Our Hand Surgeons in Georgia Today

Book your appointment at Georgia Hand, Shoulder & Elbow today! Our orthopedic surgeons can provide many hand and wrist surgeries to treat a variety of conditions. You can also receive expert care post-surgery. Get in contact with our offices in Marietta or Atlanta, Georgia now.

Medically reviewed by

Randall Alexander, MD

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Plastic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon

Hand & Orthopaedic Surgeon