Amputation of the Hand or Finger and Prosthetics

What is amputation?

Amputation is the complete removal of an injured or deformed body part. In the event that surgery cannot replant (reattach) or repair an injured finger or hand, amputation may become necessary. Before surgery, your doctor, if possible, will explain the probability that an amputation may occur and will discuss the options for future treatment and rehabilitation.

How is an amputation done?

When an amputation is indicated, the surgeon removes the injured body part and prepares the remaining part for future prosthetic use. This means careful treatment of the arteries, veins, nerves, muscles, tendons, and bone so that a prosthesis can be worn with comfort. The surgeon decides how long the remaining body part should be based on medical and prosthetic factors.

What can I expect after surgery?

In the first week you should expect some pain, which is easily treated with pain medications. While you are healing, your doctor will tell you how to bandage and care for the surgical site and when to return to the office for follow-up care. You may be given exercises to build your strength and range of motion. You may be asked to touch and move your skin to desensitize it and to keep it mobile.

What type of prosthesis will I get?

This depends on the location and length of your residual finger or hand and your functional and lifestyle needs. It is important to communicate to your doctor and prosthetist the work and home activities you feel are most important so that an appropriate prosthesis can be provided for you. For example, if one or more of your fingers or a part of your hand is amputated you may be given a Custom Silicone Prosthesis.This is created to replace some of the function and the appearance of the missing body part.These prostheses restore length to a partially amputated finger, supply opposition for a thumb or finger, or in the case of a prosthetic, hand stabilize and hold objects with bendable fingers. If your hand is amputated through or above the wrist you may be given a full arm prosthesis with an electric or mechanical hand. Some patients are not able to or decide not to wear a prosthesis.

How is a prosthesis made?

A prosthesis is fabricated from an impression cast taken from the residual finger or limb and the corresponding part on the undamaged hand.Through this process, an exact match to the details of the entire hand can be achieved. The prosthetic finger or hand is fabricated of a flexible, transparent silicone rubber.Colors dispersed in the silicon are carefully matched to the individual’s skin tones, which give the prosthesis the life-like look and texture of real skin. The finger or hand is usually held on by suction.The flexibility of the silicone permits good range of motion of the remaining body parts. Fingernails can be individually colored before applying them to the fingers so they can be matched almost perfectly.The nails can be polished with any nail polish and the polish can be removed with a gentle-action nail polish remover. Silicones are resistant to staining. Inks wash off easily with alcohol or soap and warm water. With proper care a silicone prosthesis may last 3-5 years. Work on your finger or partial hand prosthesis usually begins three months after you are completely healed from surgery.This waiting period allows time for swelling to subside and for the remainder of your hand to take its final shape. You may need therapy to learn to use your new prosthesis.

What kinds of feelings are common following an amputation?

The loss of a body part, especially one as visible as a finger or hand can be emotionally upsetting. It may take time to adapt to changes to your appearance and ability to function.Talking about these feelings with your doctor or others who have had amputations often helps you to cope with and come to terms with your amputation.Your doctor may ask a counselor to assist with this process. It is important to remember that with time, you will adapt to your situation by finding new ways of doing your daily activities. A resource that can help is the Amputee Coalition of America in the flow of your life.You have many great gifts. Even with the best medical care, you need to be strong during the course of recovery.Remember that the quality of life is directly related to your attitude and expectations – not just on getting and using a prosthesis.

Right Thumb Amputation
Right hand thumb amputation; thumb prosthesis not attached.

Prosthesis Attached

Same hand with thumb prosthesis attached.

Copyright © American Society for Surgery of the Hand.
All content copied with permission from ASSH (

Common Hand Problems and Diseases
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Eric L. Freedman, M.D.           36-951 Cook Street, Suite 102 ~ Palm Desert, CA 92211           760.342.8444          fax 760.342.8544
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