Limb Salvage Surgery

Dr. Patel can often use microsurgical techniques to salvage or restore threatened limbs, whether the damage is caused by trauma, diabetes, or other diseases. The restoration of proper blood flow may help patients avoid amputation.

Even in patients with vascular disease, Dr. Patel is able to reconstruct soft tissue through skin transplantation. He works closely with talented doctors and surgeons who specialize in other disciplines, such as vascular surgery, podiatry, and orthopedics to offer the best chance of preserving or restoring mobility and quality of life.


What Can Be Treated With Limb Salvage Surgery?picture of older lady who has diabetes

  • Vascular issues
  • Foot deformity
  • Bone issues
  • Diabetic wounds and feet

Am I a candidate for limb salvage surgery?

Limb salvage surgery may help:

  • Patients with chronic wounds that have been open for several months or have underlying bone infections. Dr. Patel uses innovative microsurgical and super-microsurgical techniques to transplant small pieces of tissue to the foot and ankle. The surgery closes the wound and creates the ideal conditions for bone to heal.
  • Patients with trauma, exposed bone, or exposed vital structures. Typically, these wounds won’t heal on their own. Dr. Patel uses innovative flap surgery techniques that can allow a wound to close and heal faster than with traditional wound care methods.

What is flap surgery?

Dr. Patel takes tissue from one of several areas around the body, using microsurgical techniques to nourish the new tissue and help ensure the best possible results.
Whenever possible, he takes tissue from places that most closely match the area of the wound, and uses that tissue to repair and reshape the affected area.

For example, on the foot and ankle, the skin is very thin, so Dr. Patel matches this by taking thin flaps from the groin or thigh region. This allows for a better contour and easier fit with shoes. Dr. Patel is one of the most experienced surgeons in the United States with doing ultra-thin flaps that better match the contours of the foot and ankle.


Is flap surgery different than a graft?

Yes. A skin graft has no blood supply, which means the survival of the graft depends on new blood vessels growing.

A flap surgery brings intact blood vessels with the transplanted tissue. Dr. Patel uses microsurgical techniques to connect the new blood vessels to existing blood vessels in the area, meaning that the new skin has a much better chance of thriving.


What are the benefits of limb salvage surgery?

Over 60 percent of nontraumatic amputation are due to diabetes complications, such as foot ulcers, peripheral neuropathy, and peripheral vascular disease. Limb salvage surgery by Dr. Patel and other skilled surgeons can enable the patient to retain leg function, be free of infection, and minimize future complications.

By being able to keep their limb, these patients are able to keep using the limb, retain independence, and maintain a higher quality of life. Studies have shown that patients with primary amputation have a 30 percent increased incidence of depression. Plus, amputation results in much higher rates of mortality. Studies place mortality following primary amputation at around 40 percent.


What are the risks of limb salvage surgery?

The risks involved with these procedures are generally that the flap will not successfully work, and the patient will still require amputation or another attempted salvage surgery. When considering the high rates of mortality after amputation, coupled with the roughly 91 percent success rates of flap surgeries in these types of cases, it can be the best first option for most patients.  The real risk is going ahead with amputation when the patient may have had the option of keeping his or her limb.


How long are flap surgeries?

Surgery usually takes 4–6 hours, though if there are bone- or tendon-related issues, the surgery may take longer. Dr. Patel may also partner with another specialist such as an orthopedic surgeon, podiatrist, or vascular surgeon.

After a flap surgery, patients usually stay in the hospital for about a week to ensure that the flap heals and joins well with the surrounding tissues.


What does the recovery process look like after a Limb Salvage Surgery?

As you would assume, there is not a “set” process or timeframe for recovery from these complex procedures performed by Dr. Patel. If the flap is not on the bottom of the foot, the recovery tends to be quicker.  Overall though, complete healing for these flap surgeries can be slow. It’s typical to expect a wide range of healing rates, everything from 6 months to one year. These are not fast recovery times, but when compared to the alternative, amputation, their success rates of 90 percent and higher are certainly worth the wait.


What Our Patients Have to Say

“Dr. Patel is very good at what he does and is very thorough in explaining procedures and outcomes. I was very satisfied with the procedure that he did. He recommended what was best for my situation.” -Martha R. 

Click here to view more of our Patient Testimonials!


How long before I can exercise again after a limb salvage procedure?

There is no timeline for recovery, much less returning to exercise. It’s probably safe to say that most patients can return to some level of exercise using the salvaged limb within one year. But every case is unique.

As your process runs its course, Dr. Patel will keep you informed of what he anticipates will be your recovery process and timeframe.


What do the results from these various procedures look like?

Most studies have shown success for diabetic foot reconstruction and salvage to be over 90 percent. The five-year survival rate for the limb is around 87 percent.

With successful salvage, the patient is able to regain use of a limb that either had a chronic foot wound or persistent foot ulcers and infections. Chances are the patient wasn’t able to use the limb. Avoiding amputation not only saves the limb, but it will usually also enable the patient to regain function.


Schedule a consultation with Dr. Patel

If you would like to learn more about our Limb Salvage Surgery procedure to see if it is the right option for you, contact us today at 323-442-0416. Our practice serves Glendale, CA, Los Angeles, CA and the surrounding areas.

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USC Verdugo Hills Hospital 1808 Verdugo Blvd Glendale, CA 91208