How long does it take for an amputated fingertip to heal?

Fingertip injury healing depends on the extent of the injury
Fingertip injury healing depends on the extent of the injury

Fingertip injury healing depends on the extent of the injury. Small wounds heal without any treatment in about two to four weeks; However, larger wounds that require surgical treatment can take weeks or months to heal.

What is fingertip amputation?

Fingertip amputation is the most common form of injuries. An injury, or amputation, involves a sharp cut, smashing injury, a tearing (lacerating) injury, or a combination of all these.

Fingertip amputation can also result from slamming the finger in a door. An amputation can damage the following parts of the finger:

  • Skin and soft tissue
  • The bone of the fingertip (phalanx)
  • Nail and underlying nailbed

Fingertips are rich in nerve supply and are extremely sensitive. Hence, fingertip amputation should be treated promptly to prevent finger deformity or disability

What to do if you have a fingertip amputation?

In case of a finger injury, you need to take care of the following things:

  • Clean the injury and apply a sterile bandage at the site to minimize the bleeding. Elevate the amputated hand to minimize swelling.
  • Prevent the movement of the affected hand and wrist with a splint.
  • Consult your physician immediately after following these first-aid techniques.

In case of a severed finger, follow these instructions:

  • Gently clean the severed finger with a sterile saline solution.
  • Cover the finger with a damp, gauze wrap.
  • Put the finger in a water bag.
  • Place the bag in an ice-filled watertight bag.

How is fingertip amputation treated?

Before the procedure:

  • Enlist medical and medication history to the physician.
  • Before the procedure, the physician may give you a numbing injection to reduce pain.
  • The physician will irrigate or wash out the wound to reduce the chance of infection.
  • After irrigation, the physician removes the dead tissue (debridement) to prevent infection.
  • The physician may ask for an X-ray of the injured finger to look for a broken bone.
  • Your physician may prescribe an antibiotic or tetanus shot to prevent infection.

During the procedure:

Fingertip amputations can be repaired using the following techniques:

  • Open technique: This technique treats small wounds or injury. The physician places a protective dressing over the wound with cleaning and dressing at regular intervals. Soak the repaired finger in warm water after one week of dressing. Complete healing takes place in three to six weeks.
  • Skin graft: For larger wounds, the physician recommends skin grafting. In this technique, a piece of skin (skin graft) is taken from the prominent part of the palm above the base of the little finger to cover the injury.
  • Reamputation: In this procedure, the physician will clean, smooth, and cover the severed area.
  • V-Y flap (Kutler or Atasoy): A V-shaped flap is taken from the injured finger, moved it over the defected area and sutured it to the nail bed.
  • Volar flap advancement (Moberg): A piece of skin and underlying fat and blood vessels (flap) are taken from the undamaged portion of the injured finger to cover the wound.
  • Bipedicle dorsal flap: A flap with two connecting stalks (pedicles) from the injured finger is moved toward the wound to cover it.
  • Cross finger flap: A flap is taken from an uninjured finger to cover the wound.
  • Thenar flap: A flap is taken from the palm to cover the wound.

After the procedure:

The physician prescribes a pain reliever and antibiotics to prevent infection.

The patient has to perform specific exercises soon after the surgery to strengthen the hand and fingers.

Additional therapies which may promote healing are:

  • Heat and massage
  • Applying splints
  • Special compression wrappings to control swelling
  • Activities such as pinching and grasping

How painful is a finger amputation?

As fingertips are rich in nerve supply, they are extremely sensitive; hence, finger amputation is extremely painful. The finger may be sensitive to cold and heat for a year or more.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/18/2020
References
https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/83116-overview#a5

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/fingertip-injuries-and-amputations