Background: Excess residual limb fat is a common problem that can impair prosthesis control and negatively impact gait. In the general population, thighplasty and liposuction are commonly performed for cosmetic reasons but not specifically to improve function in amputees. The objective of this study was to determine if these procedures could enhance prosthesis fit and function in an overweight above-knee amputee. Methods: We evaluated the use of these techniques on a 50-year-old transfemoral amputee who was overweight. The patient underwent presurgical imaging and tests to measure her residual limb tissue distribution, socket-limb interface stiffness, residual femur orientation, lower-extremity function, and prosthesis satisfaction. A medial thighplasty procedure with circumferential liposuction was performed, during which 2,812 g (6.2 lbs.) of subcutaneous fat and skin was removed from her residual limb. Imaging was repeated 5 months postsurgery; functional assessments were repeated 9 months postsurgery. Results: The patient demonstrated notable improvements in socket fit and in performing most functional and walking tests. Her comfortable walking speed increased 13.3%, and her scores for the Sit-to-Stand and Four Square Step tests improved over 20%. Femur alignment in her socket changed from 8.13 to 4.14 degrees, and analysis showed a marked increase in the socket-limb interface stiffness. Conclusions: This study demonstrates the potential of using a routine plastic surgery procedure to modify the intrinsic properties of the limb and to improve functional outcomes in overweight or obese transfemoral amputees. This technique is a potentially attractive option compared with multiple reiterations of sockets, which can be time-consuming and costly.
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