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What are webbed fingers and toes?

Some babies are born with two or more fingers or toes that are fused together or “webbed,” which can present limitations in the movements of the digits. Medically known as syndactyly, this condition can occur by itself or as part of a genetic syndrome, such as Down syndrome, Crouzon syndrome or Apert syndrome.

Within Cohen Children’s, our network of pediatric services, our multidisciplinary team of pediatric plastic surgeons, physicians, rehabilitation specialists and more works together to ensure the best possible treatment and recovery for your child.

What to expect

If your baby is born with webbed fingers and/or toes, a doctor will need to examine them to determine if it’s an isolated condition or if there is a genetic syndrome at play. This way, your baby can receive the comprehensive medical care they will need.

In terms of surgery to correct the fused digits, our expert plastic surgeons will likely use an X-ray to determine if just the skin and soft tissues are joined, or if the bones are joined as well. The specifics of the surgery will depend on how the digits are fused, but in general, it should be done between the ages of 1 and 2. Your child will be under general anesthesia, and the webbing between the fingers or toes will be split evenly. Sometimes extra skin may be needed to cover part of the newly separated digits, in which case a skin graft may be necessary.

Depending on the circumstances, this procedure may be broken into multiple operations.

Complications

  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Scarring
  • Limited movement in fingers/toes

Recovery

Your child will need to wear a cast on their hands or feet for about three weeks. Afterward, it will be removed and a brace will take its place. A rubber spacer may also be used to keep the fingers and toes separated during sleep.

You will need to come back for checkups, so we can monitor the healing of the incisions and see if additional procedures are necessary.

We may refer your child for physical therapy, in order to help improve their movement.

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