Tendon Transfer Surgery

Tendon transfer surgery is a specialized procedure that involves taking a working tendon and reattaching it to replace a damaged tendon. It is commonly used to restore function and improve mobility in cases where muscles or tendons have been compromised due to injury, trauma, or certain conditions. It is also commonly used to restore function and improve mobility due to nerve injuries if the nerves cannot be reconstructed. This surgical procedure directly addresses the underlying muscle or tendon impairment by repositioning tendons, offering a more direct and targeted solution compared to conservative treatments that primarily manage symptoms.

Conditions Treated

  • Brachial Plexus Injuries
  • Distal Bicep Tendon Tear
  • Extensor Tendon Injuries
  • Flexor Tendon Injuries
  • Tendon Injuries & Lacerations
  • Nerve Lacerations 
  • Nerve Compression
Procedure Time
1 to 3 Hours
Treatment Location
In-Clinic / Our Surgery Center (outpatient) / Hospital (in-patient)
General or Regional Anesthesia
Recovery Time
1 to 3 Months

Benefits of Tendon Transfer Surgery

Tendon transfer surgery offers a targeted approach for patients dealing with muscle or tendon impairments, providing a means to restore function and improve mobility directly.

  • Regain lost strength
  • Enhance movement 
  • Restore function in daily tasks 
  • Prevent further deterioration 


Are you a candidate?

Factors qualifying someone for this treatment might involve a confirmed diagnosis of conditions such as nerve injuries, chronic joint pain, tendon injuries, fractures affecting hand or upper limb function, or certain nerve compression syndromes. A thorough evaluation by a specialized physician helps determine candidacy based on the severity of the condition and the potential for improvement with surgery.

Individuals with severe health conditions, uncontrolled medical issues, or unrealistic expectations about the outcomes of the surgery might not be suitable candidates. Additionally, anatomical factors or extensive damage that could limit the effectiveness of the procedure might lead to disqualification. 

Find Your Surgeon

Our surgeons are board-certified, fellowship-trained hand and upper extremity specialists with years of focused training in upper extremity tendon injuries and conditions. This expertise is crucial for performing intricate tendon transfer procedures. In addition to research and clinical trials to advance the field of plastic and orthopedic surgery, we perform a high volume of tendon transfers each year with excellent success rates.

What To Expect


Patients can expect a thorough pre-operative assessment. This might involve examinations, imaging tests, electromyographic tests, discussions with the surgical team, finalizing the surgical plan, reviewing pre-operative instructions, and completing any necessary paperwork. Patients might also be advised about dietary restrictions, medications, and other preparations needed before the surgery. It's crucial to follow the surgeon's instructions diligently to ensure a smooth surgical process.


During tendon transfer surgery, we will place you under general or regional anesthesia to ensure your comfort. The surgeon then proceeds by making precise incisions in targeted areas to access the affected tendons or muscles. Using specialized techniques, the surgeon carefully identifies a functioning tendon and transfers or moves it to a new location to restore functionality. Once the tendon transfer is completed, the incisions are closed and dressings or bandages are applied to protect the surgical site.


Immediately after tendon transfer surgery, you will be moved to a recovery area for close monitoring as you awaken from anesthesia. Post-operative instructions regarding immobilization, wound care, pain management, and rehabilitation exercises are provided. You might experience some discomfort or swelling around the surgical site, which can be managed with prescribed medications. Follow-up appointments are scheduled to monitor healing progress and provide further guidance on recovery protocols.



Patients are advised to rest the affected limb or extremity, keeping it elevated to reduce swelling. During the initial recovery phase, mobility might be limited, and the use of a splint or brace to protect the surgical area might be recommended to aid in healing.
Physical therapy plays a crucial role in the recovery process, and typically begins a few weeks after surgery. Therapists work closely with patients to guide them through a tailored rehabilitation program aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of the tendon transfer while preventing stiffness or muscle weakness. As the weeks progress, patients gradually regain mobility and function, with full recovery often taking several months. 

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Patient Resources

Visit our Patient Resource Center online to access useful information such as intake forms, tips for your first appointment, ways to prepare for surgery, and more.


Are there risks or potential complications associated with tendon transfer surgery?
Risks might include infection, bleeding, nerve damage, or stiffness. However, these complications are rare and can be mitigated by following post-operative care instructions.
When can I return to normal activities after tendon transfer surgery?
The timeline for resuming regular activities depends on individual healing rates and the specific nature of the procedure. Patients should follow the surgeon's guidance for a gradual return to normal activities.
Will I need physical therapy after tendon transfer surgery?
Yes, physical therapy is typically recommended to aid in regaining strength, flexibility, and function in the treated area. It assists in maximizing the benefits of the surgery and enhancing overall recovery.
How long will I need to wear a splint or brace after tendon transfer surgery?
The duration of splint or brace use varies based on the specific procedure and individual healing progress. The surgical team will provide guidance on when to use and discontinue such devices.
What are the success rates for tendon transfer surgery?
Success rates depend on various factors, including the specific condition and patient factors. Generally, studies have shown positive outcomes and significant improvements in function after tendon transfer surgery.
Does insurance typically cover tendon transfer surgery?
Coverage depends on individual insurance plans. It's advisable to consult both the surgical team and the insurance provider to understand coverage specifics, including pre-authorization requirements or potential out-of-pocket costs.
HUES Surgeons

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