Toe amputation is a common procedure performed by a wide variety of health care providers. The vast majority of toe amputations are performed on patients with a diabetic foot.
Diabetes complications include nerve damage and poor blood circulation. These problems make the feet vulnerable to skin sores (ulcers) that can worsen quickly and are difficult to treat.
The good news is that proper diabetes management and careful foot care can help prevent foot ulcers. In fact, better diabetes care is probably why the rates of lower limb amputations have gone down by more than 50 percent in the past 20 years.
When foot ulcers do develop, it’s important to get prompt care. A nonhealing ulcer that causes severe damage to tissues and bone may require surgical removal (amputation) of a toe, foot or part of a leg.
For most people, pain improves within a week after surgery. You may have stitches or sutures. The doctor will probably take these out about 10 days after the surgery. You may need to wear a cast or a special type of shoe for about 2 to 4 weeks.
After the Amputation
You will be taken to a recovery room and monitored for any negative effects from the surgery or anesthesia. You will be given pain medicine and may also receive antibiotic medicines.
At the Hospital
Your foot will be kept elevated.
The remaining toes or foot will be wrapped with a bulky dressing. This will protect it from injury.
You will be encouraged to get up and begin walking as soon as the wound allows.
A physical therapist will likely assist you in walking at first.
When you return home, do the following to help ensure a smooth recovery:
You may need to wear a cast, a special postoperative shoe, or a regular shoe with the foot box removed until the stitches are taken out. Stitches will be removed in about three weeks.
Ask your doctor about when it is safe to shower, bathe or soak in water.
You may be advised to begin an exercise, physical therapy or rehabilitation program.
If you are a smoker, you should quit.
Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions about activity and medicines.
Watch the surgery video: