CNN : Can you really re-grow a fingertip? ... is misleading.
The recent CNN report about a woman's fingertip regenerating is misleading. As a hand surgeon I have treated hundreds of these injuries with serial dressing changes and little else. For an orthopedic surgeon or a hand surgeon this type of injury and its typical treatment is as basic as taking care of a non-displaced fracture or treating carpal tunnel syndrome. This was an unfortunate injury, but the result is as expected. In this case it appears that there was not any tissue regeneration. The skin healed over the bone but no length was added. If you look closely at the photos, the fingertip shortening is equivalent to the length of the lost tissue. The original injury had a small part of the nail plate attached to skin and fat. The nail grew out past the residual skin but the skin and fat never regenerated any lost length. The story is misleading. While great credit is due to the researchers for their work. In this scenario the product cited is not going to make a significant difference. Please read the readers comments in the blog from the CNN followup story. (and look closely at the fingertip photos)
On a normal day, Dr. Stephen Badylak’s office at the University of Pittsburgh receives five or six e-mails requesting help from people who’ve lost various body parts, particularly fingertips or toe tips.