What to Expect After Amputation

Adjusting to life after amputation involves physical, mental and emotional challenges. It is common to wonder what are the side effects of amputation.

Here’s what you can expect:

What to expect for the new amputee

Here’s a quick look at what happens following amputation:

  • Post-surgery: The first few days after surgery are typically the most challenging. You will be adjusting to the loss of your limb. You will have bandages in place and will wear compression socks to reduce swelling. Medical professionals will probably give you oxygen and fluids during this initial recovery phase. You will have a urinary catheter, so you won’t have to get up to use the restroom.
  • Rehabilitation: Physical rehabilitation will begin a few days after surgery. This will start with simple stretches to ensure you maintain range of motion in the other limbs as well as gentle exercises to prevent blood clots.
  • Communication: During this time, be open with your caregivers about any discomfort you experience. If there are any pressure points in the bandages or pain in the residual limb, be sure to communicate this to the rehabilitation team.
  • Timeline: You can expect recovery from surgery to take up to eight weeks for the wound to fully heal. It’s likely you will only be in the hospital for the first two weeks (or less).

Healing at home

The initial recovery from surgery and hospital stay are the start of your journey. It continues at home as you move through the entire healing process. This involves physical therapy, managing risk and regaining mobility and independence.

Keep in mind that it might be months before you will be fitted for an artificial limb (if you decide to get a prosthesis). Meanwhile, you will work on strengthening the muscles in your other limbs and will learn how to function independently.

An occupational therapist will probably visit your home to see if you need any accommodations such as a ramp. You will also be scheduled for continued physical therapy either at home or at an outpatient center. You will also need to visit the hospital for bandage changes and follow-up wound care.

Managing risks

The side effects of amputation can pose some physical risks. These include heart problems, deep vein thrombosis (e.g., blood clots), infection, pneumonia and phantom limb syndrome.

You will partner with your rehab team to minimize these risks. It will be important to closely monitor your progress and health status to avoid complications.

Road to recovery

You will need to work hard to physically recover from the amputation. Physical therapy can be grueling, but it will allow you to achieve independence and do the things you want to do.

Emotional recovery is also challenging. It will require making adjustments in many areas of your life. Having a strong support network around you during this time will help.

Get more answers

For more insights into what to expect after amputation, contact the experts at Prothotic Laboratories, Inc. We have extensive experience in prosthetic care and managing orthotic needs. Our team specializes in pediatric and adult products and services. Call us today or stop by for more information.