Meet Dr. Dennis Kao
Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery & Hand Surgeon

“With new advancements in immune-suppression therapy and microsurgery, the current options in hand reconstruction can achieve better results than ever before,” says Dennis Kao, M.D. “For instance, a hand transplant patient can have a functional hand that not only looks normal but also has the sense of touch, which no current prosthesis can achieve.”

Even though we are surgeons, we work with patients to try less-invasive treatments whenever possible. Our goal is simply to help patients get better, not to perform surgery when a non-surgical treatment can achieve the same result."

Dr. Kao, Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery, brings to UT Southwestern Medical Center an extreme depth of knowledge in complex hand reconstruction as well as common injuries and conditions affecting the hands, fingers, and wrists.   

He offers both nonsurgical and surgical treatments for common disorders such as trigger finger, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, arthritis of the hand, and Dupuytren’s contracture. He is one of the few physicians in northern Texas trained to offer the new FDA-approved nonsurgical option (Xiaflex injection) for the treatment of Dupuytren’s contracture. In the past, surgery was needed to remove these thick cords in the hand to allow a patient to straighten his or her fingers. Xiaflex injection can dissolve these cords without surgery and can produce similar results.

Dr. Kao also performs complex hand surgeries. For example, for any patient who has lost a finger due to an injury, he is able to perform reconstructive surgery by transplanting the patient’s toe to create a new functional finger. He says developments in surgical technology, such as use of an operating microscope and the micro-instruments, allow for the small blood vessels in the transplanted toe and the hand to be reconnected. The blood flow can then be restored to keep the transplanted toe alive and functional. “Improving a patient’s hand function can have a significant impact on his/her life,” Dr. Kao says.

With an intense focus on patient care and education, one of his primary objectives in working with adult patients is communication. Dr. Kao is committed to keeping patients informed, providing the full range of alternatives to meet their long-term needs, and explaining in detail how someone can stay healthy and avoid further injury.  

Dr. Kao finds the hand intriguing because it contains many moving parts in a small area and allows us to explore and interact with our environment and do intricate work.

Dennis Kao, M.D., shares his thoughts on how his distinct focus on and understanding of treating hand injuries and conditions brings a special advantage to his patients.

Clinical Interests

  • Trigger finger
  • De Quervain's tenosynovitis
  • Ganglion cysts
  • Dupuytren’s contracture
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Cubital tunnel syndrome
  • Nerve compression injuries of the arms and legs
  • Brachial plexus reconstruction
  • Hand reconstruction
  • Distal radius fractures
  • Hand fractures
  • Degenerative joint diseases of the hand and wrist
  • Osteoarthritis of the hand and wrist
  • Microsurgery
  • Re-attachment of amputated fingers and hands
  • Toe-to-hand transfer
  • Vascular reconstruction of the hand
  • Tendon repair
  • Tendon transfer
  • Laceration repair
  • Cyst removal
  • Mole removal