Amputation of the Hand or Finger

Amputation, or complete removal of an injured or deformed body part, can result from trauma or a planned operation.  Sometimes, traumatically amputated digits can be “replanted” (reattached), but sometimes it is not possible or the right thing to do!  Surgical amputation is done for some infections, tumors, or other conditions. 

Dressing changes and hand therapy might be used as part of your postoperative care to prepare the amputated area for use or for prosthetic fitting.  Unfortunately, sometimes, amputation can be associated with pain (even in a part that “isn’t there anymore”), cold sensitivity, or other problems.

Some people are bothered by the appearance of an amputation, or at least the idea of it.  Prosthetics are available for both hand and digit amputations; the type of prosthesis depends on the location and length of your remaning finger or hand and your functional and lifestyle needs. The prosthesis replaces some of the function and the appearance of the missing body part, but will not be a perfect substitute.  A prosthetic can restore length or help to stablize objects, but will not provide sensation “like it used to be.” 




Some people ask about a prosthetic, or "fake" finger. A prosthesis usually is not created until about three months after surgery, so that you are completely healed and swelling has subsided.  A prosthesis is custom-made based on the opposite hand, with the goal of matching details.  With proper care, a silicone prosthesis may last 3-5 years. Many people find that once they have come to terms with the loss, they no longer desire the cosmetic effect of a prosthetic or even find that they function better without it.  Only you and your doctor can figure out what is best for you.


It is normal to be sad about this.  Amputation is...literally and figuratively...a loss.  This can be upsetting and it might take time for you to adapt to the changes both in function and appearance.  Talking to others who have experienced this or speaking with a counselor can help.  A good resource is the Amputee Coalition of America.  Keep in mind that attitude and expectations will influence your recovery and quality of life!