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Foot Amputation: Before Your Surgery

What is foot amputation?

Foot amputation is surgery to remove part or all of your foot. Your doctor will leave as much healthy skin, blood vessel, and nerve tissue as possible. You will be asleep during the surgery.

Your doctor will tell you how much of your foot should be removed. Your doctor will leave enough healthy skin to cover the residual limb or the remaining part of your foot. Some people get an artificial foot. This is called a prosthesis. If you get one, your doctor will shape the remaining part of your leg or foot for the best possible fit.

Your doctor may sew the skin closed to cover the residual limb or remaining part of your foot. Or your doctor may leave it open to make sure that it heals as it should. In this case, the skin may be sewn together several days later. Or it may be left open to heal on its own. Skin that is left open can take a few months to close.

How long you will stay in the hospital after surgery depends on how much of your foot was removed. It also depends on your general health. You may need physical rehabilitation (rehab) after the surgery. Rehab can sometimes start within 48 hours of your surgery. It may last as long as 1 year.

Having part or all of your foot removed is traumatic. Learning to live with new limitations can be hard and frustrating. You may feel depressed. Or you may grieve for the lifestyle you used to have. Talking with your family, friends, and health professionals about your frustrations may help. You may also find that it helps to talk with a person who has had an amputation.

Remember that even though losing part or all of your foot is a challenge, it does not change who you are or prevent you from enjoying life. You will have to adapt and learn new ways to do things. But you will still be able to work and take part in sports and activities. And you can still learn, love, play, and live life to its fullest.

Many organizations can help you adjust to your new life. For example, you can go to and for information and support.

How do you prepare for surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • You may need to shower or bathe with a special soap the night before and the morning of your surgery. The soap contains chlorhexidine. It reduces the amount of bacteria on your skin that could cause an infection after surgery.
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • If you take a medicine that prevents blood clots, your doctor may tell you to stop taking it before your surgery. Or your doctor may tell you to keep taking it. (These medicines include aspirin and other blood thinners.) Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines and natural health products you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • Make sure your doctor and the hospital have a copy of your advance care plan. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets others know your health care wishes. It's a good thing to have before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about when to bathe or shower before your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • The surgery will take about 30 to 60 minutes.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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