What Happens if a Patient’s Body Size Changes Due to Weight Loss or Weight Gain?

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Weight Loss Weight Gain ProsthesisIf you have a prosthesis, you know the time and care taken in ensuring the socket is exactly the right size and dimension and integrates seamlessly with your residual limb. The fitting of your prosthesis is especially demanding from a technical and anatomical perspective. Consequently, no two are the same; your prosthetic limb is as unique as you are, part of a unique and complex human-device equation.

So, what happens when your body changes? It’s only normal that we lose or gain weight through the course of our lives – the body is a dynamic mechanism that responds to a number of external and internal factors. Unfortunately, your prosthetic interface, the socket, doesn’t have the same dynamic properties as your body. As an amputee, you know this only too well.  A prosthesis which fit flawlessly at first can quickly cause problems as your body goes through normal fluctuations. For example, it can take months for post-surgical swelling to finally subside, or you may experience weight gain because of a change in routine. Perhaps you’ve started a new medication or changed the level of your activity. Even monthly hormonal changes can wreak havoc on the size of our limbs. Athletes can be particularly affected, as any change in their prosthetic fit can dramatically impact performance.  If the limb becomes smaller, the socket will be too big possibly leading to friction, discomfort, and increased chance for accidents or injuries if the prosthesis slips out of place. If the limb becomes too big for the socket, irritation to the area increases, and often discomfort and skin breakdown can occur.

So, what can you do? According to O&PCare.org, if you experience any change that impacts your limb, you should have your prosthesis re-evaluated for fit. After certain events, such as changes in post-surgical swelling, additional surgery, and weight gain or loss, see your prosthetist as a matter of course to ensure your fit is adjusted as needed. While your prosthetist can make adjustments for predictable minor fluctuations, be alert for any change in the fit of your prosthesis.  You are your own best advocate. Don’t put up with discomfort or a prosthesis that doesn’t perform optimally for you. That’s why we’re here.

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