We met with the hand surgeon today about Don’s pinkies and the contracture on his right palm. His left pinkie in particular is curled over pretty badly and he can’t come close to straightening it. His right pinkie isn’t quite as bad. And the contracture on his right palm prevents him from fully flattening his hand.
Going in to the appointment we were thinking that to get rid of the thick scar tissue on his pinkies and his palm it was just a matter of making an incision and pulling out the scar tissue. What they really have to do is cut out the entire area, skin and all, fix any ligament and joint damage, then remove skin from another area (the groin is apparently the optimal choice) and sew in the skin graft to the surgical area. It’s major surgery and requires the patient to keep their operated on limb or other area immobile for 2-3 weeks. So Don couldn’t have both hands done at once. Also, the operation(s) mean more heavy-duty anesthesia. And the grafted skin most likely will not match the skin in the surrounding area to which it was applied which can look odd. There’s also the chance the area operated on will develop new contractures and scarring. But particularly with the left pinkie, the doctor felt sure he could make the net result better.
Rather than deciding on whether or not to have both hands done (and then there’s the thick scarring on the back of his neck to consider), we’re going to think about it and do some research. And Don will contact a couple other burn survivors to talk about it. The doctor recommended that Don only have areas operated on that really impacted his quality of life and functional abilities – otherwise the downsides are not worthwhile.