Secondary or Granulation Healing Helps Regrow His Fingers

November 21, 2019

Mike Maloney patient story video Denver Health
Mike Maloney sometimes jokes that he has put "at least two fingers" into his company, KOTA Longboards. He literally has. And it was because of Denver Health that he kept both those fingers and was able to get back to work.

In 2013, Maloney was getting ready to move his company into a new factory. He was all alone on a Sunday morning, making a new cabinet to store things at the new facility. Maloney is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he suffered a back injury that causes him not to feel anything in his left hand. As he was cutting some of the lumber for the cabinet, he accidentally ran his left thumb through a table saw. "I literally took off about a half an inch from the tip of my thumb," said Maloney.

He quickly grabbed paper towels to stop the bleeding and then drove himself to Denver Health for treatment.

"My luck literally changed when I walked into the emergency room at Denver Health and Dr. Kyros Ipaktchi was the hand surgeon on staff," said Maloney, smiling. He said it was the first time he had ever stepped foot into Denver Health, and it wouldn't be his last.
Watch Mike Maloney talk about how he cut the tips of two of his fingers and then grew them back after coming to Denver Health.

Denver Health is known for treating the most severe hand injuries, including many that are much more severe than Maloney's.

"On Mike, we didn't do much surgery," Dr. Ipaktchi recalled. "We cared for his wounds to help him regrow the tissue in his thumb." Dr. Ipaktchi used a procedure that is more common in Europe, but which he has been doing at Denver Health for years.

"The procedure has several names including granulation and secondary healing," Dr. Ipaktchi said.

No matter what you call it, the result was good. Dr. Ipaktchi helped Maloney regenerate the tissue and grow back the tip of his thumb.

"My thumb HAS grown back," Maloney said with pride, "And it is still growing back every year."

Fast forward to 2019. In January, nearly the same accident happened to Maloney again!

He was in his factory, making a longboard, when his left hand slipped again and his middle finger went right into a powerful router blade. He knew exactly what to do again.

"Kyros and I have kept in touch, [since the first accident] and I actually have him in my speed dial," Maloney said. This time, his wife drove him to Denver Health and he called Dr. Ipaktchi ahead of time. Maloney said he told his surgeon and friend, "Guess what? I did it again, and I'm coming back."

"He was totally fired up and wanted to have the same thing done for his middle finger that we had done for his thumb," Dr. Ipaktchi said, laughing.

"He looked at it, and he said this IS pretty much exactly the same thing that you did to your thumb, so I think the same approach is going to work here," Maloney remembered. And that is exactly what Dr. Ipaktchi did, again with a positive result.

Over the last five years, more than 120 hospitals around the Rocky Mountain Region and beyond have referred patients to Denver Health's Orthpedics department for treatment of complex hand injuries. Dr. Ipaktchi said that having the patient regrow their tissue is better for them.

"We used to do surgery for almost all fingertip defects, but now it is much safer to use secondary healing and have the patient heal the injury themselves," Dr. Ipaktchi pointed out.

Maloney credits Dr. Ipaktchi with helping him quickly get back to work. "He truly cares about what you're doing and how he can return you to 100 percent functionality," Maloney said. "It's never fun to go to the emergency room, but seeing Kyros walk through that door – all the stress of the situation just went away."

Dr Kyros Ipaktchi with patient Mike Maloney
Denver Health Dr. Kyros Ipaktchi with his custom longboard, made by patient Mike Maloney.
Beyond the doctor-patient relationship, Maloney and Dr. Ipaktchi both share a love of longboarding. Maloney made a special longboard with the doctor's name on it and presented it to him during a recent clinic visit.

Dr. Ipaktchi loves his new board and said the positive result in Maloney's case (twice) is all in a day's work for him: "There are surgical disciplines where you take things out. I love putting things back together!"

Learn more about Denver Health Orthopedics.

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