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Recovering After Lower Limb Amputation

Before your surgery

Your feelings

It is normal to feel anxious about any type of surgery. Having surgery to remove all or part of your limb (called an amputation) can be scary. You may feel loss, grief, anger, or depression. You may be worried about how the amputation is going to affect your lifestyle, work, and the activities you like to do.

These feelings are normal. It’s important to talk to your surgeon, nurse, therapists, and other healthcare providers about any questions or concerns you have.

About your surgery

Your surgery will be done by a surgeon. You may also have a rehabilitation doctor called a physiatrist on your team. Your doctors will talk to you about how the amputation and recovery will affect:

  • your health
  • the health and strength of your remaining leg after the amputation
  • how much of the lower limb is removed (called the level of amputation)
  • your choices for fitting a prosthesis (artificial leg)​
  • how the prosthesis will look and work

There are different levels of amputation:

  • above the knee (AKA)
  • through knee (knee disarticulation)
  • below the knee (BKA)
  • at the ankle (Symes)
  • removal of the toes, part of the foot, or both
Levels of Amputation  
Credit: Vicky Earle BSc AAM, MEdTech, Vancouver, British Columbia (adapted with permission).​

There are 2 types of amputation:

  • A closed amputation is the most common type. It uses a skin and muscle flap to cover the amputation area after the surgery.
  • An open amputation is sometimes used if the amputation area cannot be closed—for example, because of an infection—or if you need a lot of wound care or more surgery. The amputation area will be closed when it has healed or is ready to be closed.

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