Frequently asked questions about finger & hand prosthetics

We hope you find some useful information regarding the completely custom prosthetic restorations we fabricate and fit in our clinic in Tacoma, Washington. We welcome inquiries.

How long following surgery or amputation must clients wait before receiving a custom finger prosthesis?

Depending on the extent of the surgery, it is recommended that patients wait approximately 6 months to ensure complete healing, and eliminate swelling prior to impression taking. The physician is consulted to determine when the patient is ready for prosthetic treatment. The authorization process may be started before clinical appointments.

How do prostheses stay on?

Most finger and toe prostheses are held in place by a customized suction fit. When suction retention is not possible, a combination of other options may be used.

Is it just cosmetic? What about function?

Custom silicone restorations are functional. The level of function varies with each prosthesis, and depends upon the type of device. Prostheses can perform certain functions, such as supporting, stabilizing, pushing and pulling, in addition to providing proprioceptive feedback. The ability to type again may be one of the most fulfilling benefits of a finger prosthesis, depending upon the capability of the residuum.

Do the fingers move?

This depends on the level of restoration. If a finger prosthesis is made to replace just the tip of a finger or fingers, they can easily move and perform tasks. If the fingers are missing completely, then movement is limited. In some cases, design includes an internal armature that may be bent into a desired position.

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Are prostheses covered by health insurance?

Prostheses are considered durable medical equipment and are covered by many medical plans and Workers Compensation plans. We do our best to ensure that maximum coverage is received when we obtain pre-authorization. A detailed treatment plan, along with payment schedule information is provided before the start of treatment. For self-pay clients and those with out-of-pocket coinsurance requirements, a down payment is required at the start of treatment. We accept cash, checks, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and Care Credit.

How durable is a prosthesis?

The average life span of a prosthesis is between 2 and 3 years. The life span may vary greatly from patient to patient depending on what it is used for, how often it is worn, and how well it is cared for. Because silicone is a synthetic material, it will eventually deteriorate. Prostheses can be lost, damaged, or discolored by cigarette smoke and UV light. Subsequent replacements can be made using molds and records which are kept on file for each patient. It may be beneficial for a client to have two prostheses so that they may switch back and forth. This extends the life of both prostheses.

What are the limitations of a prosthesis?

A prosthesis will not blush, tan, grow, or age in conjunction with the patient's surrounding tissue. It must be removed daily in order to be cleaned and to allow the underlying tissue to receive air exposure and also be cleaned. In addition, prostheses need to be replaced periodically (every 2-3 years depending on wear and tear) in order to maintain a lifelike and natural appearance. When not wearing the prosthesis is should be stored safely in a solid container and kept away from pets, children and sharp objects.

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How long does it take to receive a prosthesis?

Fabrication of a custom silicone prosthesis is labor-intensive. The process requires multiple patient visits that are spread over several weeks. In order for a prosthesis to successfully create the illusion of life and fit correctly and comfortably, all details must be sensitively replicated. This process typically requires 4-6 patient visits. Appointments vary from one to three hours depending on the procedures being performed. For more information see The Process.

Can fingernails be painted?

Yes, If the nails are acrylic, as in most of our custom prostheses, the nails may be painted with polish, as long as non-acetone polish remover is always used. Acetone will break down the acrylic finger nail.

Can a prosthesis be worn all the time?

Custom Prosthetic's clients do not wear their prostheses when bathing, sleeping, or during activities that will be more strenuous on the silicone prosthesis. This includes activities like sports, construction, gardening and auto maintenance. It is important to avoid oily products; hair and body products should only be applied when not wearing the prosthesis.

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Custom index finger prosthesis

Right index finger prosthesis

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Custom right index, middle & ring finger prostheses

Client manipulates object while wearing left index, middle & ring finger prostheses