Whether the defect is congenital or acquired, plastic surgeons can usually restore comfort, mobility, and normal appearance to patients with hand problems. Acquired defects include carpal tunnel and other painful conditions caused by pressure on the nerves (usually at the wrist or elbow); trigger fingers, a condition caused by swelling of a flexor tendon in the hand; ganglion cysts, a benign cystic growth and scar contracture which occurs when a wound or burn on the hand heals poorly and forms scar tissue that curls the fingers or restricts mobility. Dupuytren's disease causes a similar problem of hand contracture.
Children born with syndactyly (webbed fingers) can benefit from finger separation, where a zig-zag-type incision separates the fingers and rearranges the tissue between them, preventing growth deformities. If a child has polydactyly (extra fingers), correction is often more than simply removing the extra digits. The surgeon may also need to balance the tendons of the hand and stabilize the remaining finger joints so that the hand functions as normally as possible. Plastic surgeons also reconstruct missing digits, including the thumb, which supplies half of the hand's function.