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Recovering After Lower Limb Amputation

Controlling swelling

It is important to control the swelling in your limb after surgery. There are 3 types of dressings to control swelling: soft, semi–rigid, or rigid. You wear the dressing over the wound care for your incision. Your doctor will decide which dressing is best for you.

Soft dressings

There are 3 types of soft dressings.

Elastic tubular stocking
Elastic tubular stocking is the most common way to control swelling post-surgery. Your limb will be measured to find the right stocking size. You wear the stocking over the other wound care dressings like a sock. You will need to change this it as often as your healthcare team tells you to.

Tensor (elastic) bandage
A tensor bandage is not often used since it can be hard to put on correctly. But it is sometimes used if the limb is an unusual shape or if the swelling can only be controlled by this type of dressing. Your healthcare team will teach you how to properly apply a tensor bandage. If you use a tensor bandage, it should be taken off for 15 minutes every 4 to 6 hours.

Limb shrinker sock
Once your limb is fully healed you may receive a limb shrinker sock. It is a fitted compression sock that puts gentle pressure on the end of the limb to manage swelling. It is usually fitted by a prosthetist (specialist who makes prostheses).

Semi-rigid dressings

A semi-rigid dressing is like a soft cast that helps to reduce swelling in your limb better than a simple soft dressing. It goes over the wound care dressing, and you only wear it for a brief time until the incision heals. You may use it for up to 7 days and then be fitted for a soft dressing.

Rigid dressings

A rigid dressing is a plaster cast put on right after surgery. It’s usually on for 7 to 10 days. If your incision heals well, you will then get another cast or a soft dressing.

A rigid dressing is only used if your limb needs extra protection or to allow you to walk sooner. If you walk with a rigid dressing, you will need to have a post (called a pylon) attached to the cast so you can put weight on the limb. While the incision heals, you may only put some of your weight on the limb to let it heal well. Your therapist will show you how to walk using the cast with a walking post.​​​​​​​​

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