When Amputation and Prosthesis are Necessary

Certain parts of the body that have become seriously injured or diseased may need to be removed by amputation. In some cases, amputated fingers can be reattached via surgery, however, this is not always possible or advisable if reattaching the fingers will cause great discomfort, severely impaired functioning or other serious complications. Prosthetics are often recommended for replacing arms, legs and other body parts that have been amputated.

The Amputation Process

To determine if surgery is required to remove a severely injured or diseased body part, a doctor will take x-rays to assess the extent of the damage. If amputation is the only option, surgery will be performed only on the damaged area with an attempt to save as much of the healthy body part as possible. The surgical site can sometimes be closed by rearranging the skin and making the bone or tendon length shorter. Skin, muscle tissue or tendons from another part of the body are sometimes needed to close the surgical area. When hand surgery is performed, the surgery site can often be closed directly with fingertip injuries. Finger or hand shape sometimes needs to be altered in cases of acute trauma to be able to fit a prosthetic device in the future.

Following amputation surgery, some pain should be expected during the recovery phase. Pain medication may be prescribed to help control pain. Doctors can advise patients on how to properly bandage and care for the surgical sites and recommend exercises to build strength and increase flexibility in these areas.

Using Prosthesis to Restore Functioning

Prosthetic limbs have helped many amputees regain much of the quality of their lives. Most people can be fitted for prosthesis three months after surgery. When hand or finger amputation is performed, a Los Angeles hand surgeon can fit a patient for a prosthetic limb that is based on the length and location of the remaining hand or fingers. Prosthetic limbs can be customized to suit the activities and functional needs of each patient. A full-arm prosthesis that has an attached electrical or mechanical hand on the end often works well for people whose hands were amputated through or above the wrist. Prosthetic limbs for people who have undergone hand or finger amputations are designed to restore finger length and make it easier to hold objects. Manufacturers can make prosthetic limbs look natural with realistic skin tones and nails that can be polished. Most silicone prosthetic limbs have a lifespan of three to five years before they need to be replaced.

Our team of board-certified plastic surgeons at LA Hand Surgeon can offer support and recommend the best prosthesis options for people who have undergone amputations.