Limb salvage surgery is designed to preserve as much of the limb’s function as possible. This can include the ability to walk, run, and use the affected limb for everyday activities. The primary benefit of limb salvage surgery is that it allows patients to avoid amputation of the affected limb. This can greatly improve a patient’s quality of life and their ability to perform everyday activities. Losing a limb can also have a significant impact on a person’s body image and self-esteem. Limb salvage surgery can help preserve the appearance of the affected limb, which can help patients feel more confident and comfortable in their own skin.
Types of Limb Salvage Surgery
Limb salvage surgery encompasses various techniques tailored to the extent and location of limb damage. These techniques include revascularization, nerve repair, skin grafting, bone grafting, and reconstructive surgery that may employ synthetic materials, grafted tissues, or donor tissues to repair the damage and restore function. While generally advantageous, limb salvage surgery may entail a higher risk of complications and necessitate future procedures. Deciding between amputation and limb salvage surgery can be challenging, and your healthcare team will assess your unique circumstances, the potential for retaining limb function, and psychological implications to make the best decision for you.
What to Expect: Limb Salvage Surgery
Before limb salvage surgery, your plastic surgeon will meet with you to explain the procedure in detail, as well as any associated risks and instructions for preparation and recovery. Pre-operative tests evaluating your heart and lungs may also be ordered.
During the procedure, we may employ various techniques, such as harvesting flaps and grafts from other areas of your body to transfer to the affected limb. Limb salvage surgeries are commonly conducted via two methods: allografting, which entails joining tissues and cells from elsewhere in your body or another individual; and prosthesis, which involves substituting the affected area with an artificial body part called a prosthetic.
The primary objective of your surgical team is to restore both form and function to the damaged area whenever feasible. The techniques employed can vary in complexity and duration, with some requiring microsurgery and taking several hours. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with more detailed information about the surgical techniques and the anticipated duration of the surgery based on your specific injury.
Medical Review: This procedural information has been medically reviewed by plastic and reconstructive surgeon, Brian A. Cripe, M.D.