Immediately after your surgery, it is important to:
- Protect your limb. Be careful not to fall or do anything to damage your limb as this could delay the prosthetic fitting process. Be especially careful getting up in the middle of the night and make sure to have your limb guard on.
- Allow the suture to heal. Follow instructions given to you by your doctor or nurse.
- Prevent knee flexion contracture (maintaining the ability to fully straighten your knee). This will retain your full range of motion at the knee and enable a more natural walking pattern. Follow your recommendations by your physical therapist.
Once the surgical site has healed…
- This will typically 3-4 weeks with no complications.
- Next the staples or stitches will be removed.
- A shrinker will then be applied. This is a very tight piece of fabric that goes over your residual limb. It helps to decrease swelling and begin to shape the leg, thus getting it ready for a prosthesis. It is to be worn 18-20 hours per day. It is also during this time that massaging the limb will help break up the scar tissue that can form underneath the skin during the healing process. This is important because if scar tissue forms it decreases the skins elastic nature and can become a possible site for breakdown once you begin walking.
Check Socket Fitting
When your limb is healed and the shape is ready for a prosthesis, you will walk on a check socket or diagnostic prosthesis. This is typically 2-4 weeks after the shrinker has been worn, depending on how quickly your leg takes shape. This prosthesis is only worn in clinic and it is made of a clear, easily adjustable material. Your prosthetist will make adjustments as you stand, walk and sit in the leg to ensure proper fit and alignment.
A preparatory prosthesis will be made after successful check socket fitting. This is typically worn for 6-8 months. During this time, your limb will change in size and various adjustments will need to be made to your prosthesis as you become more proficient in walking. The socket can be customized with designs or decals.
A definitive prosthesis will be utilized once your limb has matured and size of the leg has stabilized. It will be made of carbon fiber for decreased weight and increased strength. The socket can be customized with designs or colored to match your skin color.