ALSO CALLED: Limb Loss or Limb Removal

What is it?

Amputation is the removal of a limb (arm or leg) or part of an extremity (foot, toe, hand or finger/s) when an alternate treatment is not available or has failed to remove bone and tissue due to:

•  Extensive infection
•  Lack of blood supply
•  Significant trauma
•  Frostbite
•  Severe burns
•  Wounds


BLEEDING & INFECTION are possible following any surgical procedure.  Your surgical team will stop any bleeding that occurs in the operating room, and a drain may remain after surgery to monitor post-operative bleeding.  To prevent infection, pre-operative antibiotics are administered and skin will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution.  Still, infections sometimes occur and require treatment.

POOR WOUND HEALING or wound breakdown may occur, particularly if your surgery was due to infection or poor blood flow.  Your surgical team will meticulously check your incision during your hospital stay to monitor healing and watch for signs of infection.

BLOOD CLOTS in the legs can develop due to lack of mobility after surgery.  Low-dose blood thinners are often used to prevent clot formation.

PHANTOM PAIN, a sensation that the limb is still there, sometimes occurs.  It can often be treated with medication or therapy.

OTHER MEDICAL CONDITIONS, including coronary artery disease, heart disease and diabetes can increase your risk for post-operative complications.

How to prepare

•  Your vascular surgeon will give you instructions for how to prepare, including which medications to take the morning of the surgery.

•  If you are not already in the hospital, you will be notified where and when to report on the day of surgery.

•  Starting 6 hours before surgery or at midnight the night before surgery, you will need to fast. Designated morning medications may be taken with a sip of water.

What Can I Expect After Treatment?


You will stay in the hospital for a few days after the operation. Your surgical team will pay close attention to your dressing and incision and monitor your progress. Qualifications for discharge from the hospital include adequate pain control on oral medication, signs that the amputation stump is healing well and that you are thriving.


Many times, significant pre-surgical discomfort is relieved. But you may have pain related to the incision that can be relieved with appropriate medications. You may also be given a course of antibiotics.


You will work with physical therapy to learn how to adjust to your activity. Your care team may also recommend that you spend time at a rehabilitation facility before going home.


If you had an arm or a leg amputation and your stump is healing well, you will be a candidate for a prosthetic arm or leg. A fitting usually occurs 4-6 weeks after surgery and includes training and instruction on using the prosthetic.

The information contained on is sourced from the Society for Vascular Surgery at It is purely informational, and is not intended, nor should it be relied upon, as a substitute for the advice or treatment of a trained medical professional. Individuals with specific medical problems or questions must consult with their doctor or other health care professional.


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