How Long Does Swelling Last After Finger Surgery?

It’s something that anyone who’s had surgery on their hands may wonder about. The answer, though, is more complicated than you might think.

Normally, your doctors will remove your stitches in one to two weeks, and your finger will be healed in six weeks.\ Fingers are incredibly complex sensory organs that house hundreds of different nerve endings each. When one of these nerves or tendons becomes inflamed or perhaps cut during surgery, it can cause the area to swell.

The time it takes for swelling to dissipate, and the level of swelling that lasts and lingers varies from individual to individual. The best answer is: it will likely take about two to three weeks after the surgery, though some people may experience less or more swelling than others.

However, a few factors will influence how much swelling you experience. These include:

Type of surgery

Generally, most surgeries done on fingers cause some amount of swelling. This is because once a surgeon makes an incision to remove tissue, blood and fluid will begin to pool in that area, causing inflammation and swelling. Location of the finger that was operated on: Where the surgery took place affects how much swelling you will have.\ For example, surgeries on the tip of your index or middle fingers will cause much more swelling than if the surgery were to take place closer to your palm. If you are recovering from a broken knuckle, it may cause much more swelling as well since this joint is larger and houses much more tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. Other surgeries that may cause more swelling include tendon repair and removing cysts.

Types of Anesthesia

The type of anesthesia your doctor uses to help sedate you during surgery will affect how long the swelling lasts as well. Generally, if your surgery is done under general anesthesia, then you are likely to experience more swelling than those who had their surgery done while they were completely awake.

For instance, if you had surgery performed under local anesthesia, there is a much greater chance that you will experience less swelling than someone who was put to sleep during surgery. This is due to the fact that when someone has general anesthesia, their bodies are placed in what can be best described as paralytic shock. Their heart rate slows down, which slows the blood flow to certain areas of their body, including the hands.

This lack of blood movement to your hands will cause them to swell because there is nothing pushing the fluid from being released from your tissues back up toward your heart. As a result, the fluid just sits in that area after surgery, causing swelling.

In addition, general anesthesia puts your body into a state of hypoxia, which is essential when you are not getting enough oxygen to your organs and tissues. This lack of oxygen will slow the healing process considerably because blood vessels cannot properly heal without adequate oxygen.

Length of anesthesia or time surgery took place for

The longer the surgery lasted and the longer you were under anesthesia, the more likely it is that your hands will swell because of it. If you had surgery to repair a tendon or ligament in your finger, it might also take much longer for them to heal and mend together due to the fact that these tissues are slow to heal.

People who have their surgery done on a Friday afternoon may find that they have a severely swollen hand because there was a longer amount of time for it to swell since they had surgery during the week. In addition, many people cannot get away from work until the next Monday, so by the time their swelling goes down, they are back at work and having to use their hands again.

What kind of Problems Can Occur after Trigger Finger Surgery?

Trigger finger surgery is generally considered safe, but you could experience any of the following after your trigger finger surgery:

Although very rare, some people can have an allergic reaction to anesthesia. This would be characterized by wheezing, swelling of the throat or tongue, severe itching, fever, and a racing heart rate. In addition, some people may be allergic to the tape or bandages placed on their fingers during surgery. This could cause redness, swelling, and itching at the wound.

Some people may also notice that they have gone numb in certain areas after trigger finger surgery. Usually, this painless condition will go away within a few hours after surgery, but if it lasts for over an hour or so, you should seek immediate medical attention.

Some people may also notice that they have a slight ache in their hand, which is completely normal after trigger finger surgery since there will be stitches and possibly metal pins holding your bones together during the healing process. If this pain persists after a few days, contact your doctor because it could signify a more severe problem.

In addition, there is always a small risk that your body will develop an infection after trigger finger surgery. If you notice any pain or redness in the area where you had surgery, it would be wise to see your doctor as soon as possible. In many cases, this can get cleared up with medication, but if the infection progresses, then the risk of it spreading to other areas is much greater.

What to Keep in Mind?

Lastly, you need to keep some things in mind after a finger or hand surgery. These tips will help you take care of your surgery site and speed up the recovery process:

You should take a pain reliever if needed before going to bed or when it starts to hurt. However, remember that you should only be taking over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) according to the directions on the package.

As soon as you wake up after surgery, you should be applying ice packs to your hand for 15-20 minutes at a time to help reduce swelling faster. You can use bags of frozen peas or other small cold packs that are wrapped in a towel because these types of cold treatments do not cause any skin damage, such as frostbite.

Take pain medication only when you need it, and avoid taking excessive amounts of ibuprofen or acetaminophen because this can cause serious liver and kidney problems. When taking Tylenol, make sure to take the correct dosage (650mg every 4 hours approximately). People who take blood-thinning medications such as warfarin should avoid ibuprofen because it can interfere with your blood’s ability to clot.

In addition, you should be wearing a splint every night when you sleep and refrain from taking baths or swimming for at least three weeks after surgery. You can remove the stitches yourself if they are irritating, but make sure that the place where stitches were placed is dry before doing so.


Resources

  1. myhealth.alberta. ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=ud1893#:~:text=Your%20doctor%20will%20take%20out,work%20depends%20on%20your%20job.
  2. www.med.unc. edu/surgery/plastic/files/2018/07/faqs-after-hand-surgery.doc
  3. www.healthline. com/health/trigger-finger-surgery