Beyond cosmetic surgical procedures, Dr. Hetzler has extensive experience with various hand surgeries. These surgeries may be necessary to repair injured hands, including injuries to the tendons, nerves, blood vessels, and joints. They may be needed after the patient has suffered burns or cuts. He also performs carpal tunnel release surgery, and surgery to correct a far less known disorder — Dupuytren’s contracture.
What is Dupuytren’s contracture?
Dupuytren’s contracture is a disorder of the skin and the underlying tissue on the palm side of the hand. When a person develops Dupuytren’s contracture, thick, scar-like tissue forms under the skin of the palm and may extend into the fingers. Knots of tissue form under the skin, eventually creating a thick cord that can pull one or more fingers into a bent position. The affected fingers can no longer be straightened completely, making many everyday activities difficult. Dupuytren’s contracture mainly affects the ring finger and pinky.
How does this happen?
Dupuytren’s contracture typically progresses slowly, over years. It begins with a thickening of the skin on the palm. As this progresses, the skin on the palm may appear puckered or dimpled. A firm lump, sensitive to the touch but not painful, may form on the palm. In later stages, cords of tissue form under the skin on the palm and can extend into the fingers. As they tighten, they pull the fingers toward the palm, keeping them from being able to be straightened.
The causes of Dupuytren’s are a mystery. It is more prevalent in white men of Northern European descent who are at least 50 years old. There seems to be a genetic tendency. Also, people with diabetes have a higher risk of developing the condition.
Treating Dupuytren’s contracture
Surgery is the only treatment for Dupuytren’s contracture. Dr. Hetzler will cut and separate the bands of thickened tissue, freeing the tendons and allowing better finger movement. This is a delicate procedure because the nerves that supply the hand and fingers are often tightly bound up in the abnormal tissue. In many cases, Dr. Hetzler also uses skin grafts to replace tightened and puckered skin.
If you think you may have Dupuytren’s contracture, please call Dr. Hetzler at (732) 219-0447. He has experience with this hand surgery and can return your hand to normal function.