Whenever possible, our plastic surgeons try to use the patient’s own tissues for reconstructive surgery, which is known as a transplant. 

But, if missing parts are too large (eg a whole leg or arm) or too complex (eg a missing eye), an alternative is to use an artificial limb or body part. This treatment area is called prosthetics. 

We offer a wide range of prosthetic reconstruction services at the Royal Free Hospital. Almost any part of the body can be replaced with a prosthetic limb or alternative, though the ability of a prosthetic body part to mimic the function and appearance of the missing part can vary a lot.

Who are prosthetic limbs and body parts best for?

Prosthetic reconstruction may be an option after a loss of any part of the body due to injury or disease. 

Once the wounds have healed, a prosthetic limb or body part can be fitted by our specialists. 

Prosthesis may be more suitable for patients who are medically unfit or unwilling to have plastic surgery or lengthy general anaesthetic procedures to achieve a result.

How are prosthetic limbs and body parts fitted?

In most cases, no specialist surgery will be required after the initial operation to remove or manage the diseased or injured area. 

After your tissues have healed, you are usually referred to the prosthetics department to fit an appropriate prosthesis. 

These can be attached to the body in a number of different ways, depending on your needs: 

  • glue for smaller prosthetics such as prosthetic noses, ears and eyes
  • spectacles for parts of the face, eyes and nose
  • sockets and straps for prosthetic arms and legs 
  • implants for all types of prosthetics

For patients who experience problems with the standard methods of attaching prosthetic limbs or body parts, an alternative is to use a prosthetic implant that is anchored in the bones, known as osseointegration.