Instructables

Attempting to make my own toe prosthesis...

Any helpful suggestions? I'll explain my situation: I have a partial right big toe amputation. basically, the entire tip end where the nail is supposed to be is gone, right to the joint, leaving me with a stubby, short half-toe. I've found some companies that will make realistic prosthetic toes, fingers, ears, etc, but the cost is too much for me. ($3000 for something with a life expectancy of only 2 -3 years!) I've decided to make my own using silicone. My plan is to make a mold of my sister's toe and fill it with silicone. I'll also mold my poor little stub, make a plaster replica of it, and stick it into the silicone-filled mold of my sister's toe. The idea is to custom-fit it to my toe. The parts that I'm finding difficult are painting it to look realistic, and also finding an acrylic nail large enough to pass as a large toenail. If anyone has any suggestions, or even a better method, please feel free to enlighten me! Thanks.

icmtoop6 years ago
Hey ! I had a similar lawnmower incident five years ago. I lost nearly half of my right big AND second toe. In the emergency room, after the doctor got done snipping and sewing- Trying to make the best of a awkward situation, I asked jokingly at the time "If they made fake toes ?" She said "I believe they do" and offered to have some literature sent to me on the subject. I told her that would probably not be necessary. Some time later I received some information in the mail on the subject. I have to admit that I considered it just for a moment - because my toes were cut off crooked, both at the same angle facing inward and my big toe looked like the end of a polish sausage, and my second toe looked like a little sisler ! Being the avid flip-flop wearer, I was very disappointed in their appearance. My girlfriend and I joked about if I had fake toes and we we at the mall and one flew off at K-Mart !, also I did not think gluing on toes that are impossible make truly realistic every time I wanted to wear flops was an avenue for me. To make a long story shorter, I had them amputated a second time, straight, in the first joints. They turned out short, but very symmetrical and scar free. I am back to wearing flops, and have even found a fondness in being unique, so much so that I had a ring tattooed on my second toe in the form of curling waves. The Irony is -- people think its a saw blade !!
icmtoop icmtoop7 months ago
Ran across this thread again... Looks like its been abandoned for awhile... After reading all the posts... I can't help but wonder why everyone is so worried that somehow the world is going to shun you for havin a nub....lol... OK ...lets say you are lookin at someone's toes...and you see... Four painted toes, one with a toe ring... And there big toe is just a short stub...lol...what would you think?...I would think ... Cool that person is pretty confident and well adjusted... A little daring maybe? ...So cool... NOW... You see someone else.... NO painted toes...NO toe rings... And a freeky rubber toe that is 5 shades whiter than the rest of their foot and sticks out like a sore thumb....lol.. What would you think?... I would think ... That person is very self conscience... Image having to worry that its coming off while in public... Or does come off and you notice in the checkout line at Wal Mart...haha.... And that person is like whoops ... Don't look ...gotta put my fake looking rubber big toe back on my stump.... Never mind...
darrenhall1 year ago
Hiya - hope you get a quality result soon.
Don't know if this way of looking at the problem will help - but. There seem to be quite a few guys/girls on here who are doing instructables for horror makeup and fake wounds - now I would bet they can make their items really realistic (so what material are they using?) and also if! they are going to be used/worn for any length of time how are they affixing the said fake wounds etc to skin.

No matter what - all the best, I am sure you will crack this.

DZ
jen231 year ago
i have my right toe gone well not gone gone half with no nail i have a fake toe i had to pay about 4000 dollars but the place that i got it from did my fake toe for free because i love to swim but i get really sad because i had go to camp my mom gave me open toe shoes and that was the only thing hag so i just hind my foot from 300 people at camp i was really mad before grade 9 my mom called this girl who made toes,feet,ears and i was under 14 at the time i got my fake toe it looked so real i was so happy i will tell you wear i got my free toe.
jen23 jen231 year ago
the fake toe i was talking bout
crapflinger4 years ago
what about embracing your lack of toe? i'd imagine any home made prosthesis wouldn't correct for posture or functional issues...so it's got to be for cosmetic only reasons. i know it's easier said than done...but you really shouldn't care what people think about your toes when wearing sandals or open toed shoes...most people don't look at other people's feet any way...it could be a good icebreaker/conversation starter
that is so easy for you to say i lost a joint fom both my big toe and the one followed and am sooooooo insecure when it come on to the test of taking offf my shoe
you being insecure has nothing to do with the possibility of you becoming not insecure about it. which was the suggestion. i've got various physical "differences" compared to others, some of them were a problem when i was younger, but i learned to get over it.

also take note, that it's just one suggestion.
A few years back my boyfriends stupid mates decided to cut his big toe off with hedge trimmers while he was out cold and he's been pretty miserable ever since. I reckon he'd be a lot happier with a prosthetic toe that actually looks real. The one he has at the moment is quite obviously fake. Any information on good companies that make realistic prothetic toes would be appreciated?
D: I certainly hope they were brought up on criminal charges...those are no friends!
nope, they got away with it!!!! only coz my boy is too forgiving!! but i've told him never to let them near me haha
:( That's unfortunate. Sorry to hear about that. Forgiving is a really nice thing...but there is such a thing as too nice... :D
i_do_not_mow_lawns (author) 6 years ago
Ok, I've just bought my mold-making supplies, so hopefully in the next couple of weeks I'll have an instructable posted on my prosthesis making procedure. Wish me luck!
Hello, You are probably one of the pioneers in a DIY to create your own toe prosthesis. I have been practicing this profession since 1969 so I could possibly help you. Let's begin with why you want that toe prosthesis, after all it would be hidden inside your footwear, would it not? Else if you want to use open footwear, then your toe stump will be visible, and so you want a prosthsis. Secondly, as you said getting a professional to make it for you is too expensive and the product life span is too short. What you will make will have a similiar life span too, will it not? So if you plan to use open footwear and so are concerned, then I would suggest you try molding leather. On the other hand if you insist on making a toe in Silicone polymer, I could take you through the steps. Finally, if you are inclined, you could become serious about doing this kind of work as a hobby or career, and I could guide you through the steps too. So you decide which way you want to go. Daril Atkins
hi I'm trying to help my dad get toes prosthesis. he fell about 3 years ago and the doctors had to amputate his toes on both feet. Trying to get them professionally is very expensive I was laid off from both of jobs. My dad is my whole if you could please help me in telling me how to make them from the bottom of my heart would really appreciate it. My dad was a very happy person but since his accident he is a very unhappy person and I would love to do something for him. Please advise. my personal e mail is babytaz627@yahoo.com. Thank you in advance Idannis
Luck!
Good Luck, and I am sorry about your loss.
Darilatkins6 years ago
You will have realized by now that just making an artificial toe is not all. You need to have a good system of retention. One way is to fix the toe to the open footwear. Another is to use a toe ring as a clamp if your toe stump is long enough. And the other is to use a skin color sock so that the toe becomes part of the sock which when worn will hold the toe in its proper place. And lastly but not highly recommended is the use of a skin adhesive. You have yet to tell us if you have made any progress. By the way if you do a good job of copying your toe stump, the prosthesis could just fit like a thimble without any extra retention props.
Shad0w6 years ago
I don't know why no one else has suggested this. And I also know this post might be a little old. But you can easily keep the toe on by manufacturing a 'toe ring' that fastens it onto the stub. When people see it, it will look natural and normal, (espeically if you ARE a girl) Good idea? No bonding or glues needed to hold it on.
Goodhart6 years ago
I haven't read every post, so forgive me if I repeat something here, but my first thought is cautionary (this is another sign that I have done too many things TO myself that I would rather have not done); and that is, test each material you will be using for this, for skin sensitivity (allergic reaction). It would be a downright bugger to go through the whole process and find it make you break out in a rash, or something.
Instead of using your sister's toe, why not make make a "mirror image" replica of your other big toe? You could remove the necessary material from that to accomodate your stub. As for the lining between your toe and the prosthesis, I suggest that you just cut up a cheap black dress sock. Not too thick, and it's toe-friendly. Acrylic probably isn't the way to go for the nail. I wonder if you could fashion something convincing with a Dremel, some plastic and some patience. Constructively, Bill
Argh...I didn't read the other guy's comment. I am glad to know I intuitively picked out the opposite-limb method used by the pros, though.
jtobako7 years ago
Have you figured out how to attach it? Is your sister's toe larger than yours so that there is room inside the cast for a 'sleeve' of silicone that will hold onto your stump? Are you planning to reinforce the sleeve or reduce the size of the stump cast for a tight fit? Will you have to worry about sweat inside the 'cup' that the stump fits into? Skin color can be a problem-with this being cosmetic, presumably for summer use (bare foot or sandals...) you are going to have to worry about the tan on your foot changing.
i_do_not_mow_lawns (author)  jtobako7 years ago
I actually was thinking about a silicone sleeve, not only for the purpose of holding onto my stump, as you suggested, but also as a way prevent paint from wearing off, as jfk points out. Since you asked, do you know of any way to reinforce the sleeve or to reduce the size of the stump cast? As far as the tan on my foot changing, I know that the prosthetic companies use a cream that darkens the prosthesis and gradually fades like a tan. Since I don't have access to that, I'll probably end up making a toe for every season.....ha, that makes me laugh. And yes, my toe will probably get a bit sweaty, but I don't care, I've been waiting for 14 years to wear open toed shoes!
Would Spirit Gum work its used to glue on Halloween warts, fake noses, and other stuff. Theirs also spirit gum remover so you could take it off as needed. You can get it both remover and adhesive on the internet.
a GOOD adhesive for that would probably be pros aide or THISSpirit gum was a good adhesive back in the day, but now...

Pros aide can be removed using good old mineral oil.
I'd be more worried that the sweat would lubricate the silicone and it would fall off. As far as reducing the stump cast, sandpaper? A single layer of gauze (on the inside surface probably) might work to reinforce the silicone. Probably want more than one type of silicone-a soft one to reproduce the ball of the toe and an elastic one for the sleeve (and possibly a stiffer one for the 'bone' along the top). Or the plastic of the nail might go all the way back over part of the stump for rigidity. After you make one, you will probably see why they cost so much, and only last a few years : )
gauze would also help absorb sweat.
SacTownSue7 years ago
Check out what ELF has to say about his girlfriend's nails. I don't spend much time or money on these types of things, myself. http://www.instructables.com/id/E3AO4W0F2FRVB5O/#C14HJP3F46WOEK8
I still have read whether you are male or female as far as your expectations. At this point I'm guessing female. So your expectation is that the toe be "pretty"? What his is talking about could work for you nail and then you can apply polish over it.
I'm not sure how you're going to keep it on. Sweat, sand, swimming, dirt... Maybe some adhesive or as was suggested earlier a stocking, but again sand, dirt...
SacTownSue7 years ago
You don't say where you are located. If you are in a area that has a good costume shop or theatrics then you might find someone there for "brain picking".

Have you looked at any of these?

http://www.instructables.com/id/E2OA96H1J9ES9J6PAN/
http://www.instructables.com/id/EH0Q7NYIG4EY95SU9L/

This one looks like it has lots of good general info and links:
http://www.instructables.com/id/S0GS2K2F3R7ANWA/
jfk7 years ago
One of the ways this is done in the prosthetic profession is to cast the opposite digit or limb (if it remains) with silicone and make a wax cast of it that can be sculpted and curved the other way to match the missing side. This wax model is cast to make a mold that is used to create a thin clear silicone glove (or equivalent), that is painted from the inside to match the coloring of the remaining limb or digit with silicone paint. For a very realistic effect, the differentiation in color around the joints, due to veins, and on wearing surfaces like the bottom of the foot and palm are added, and the base coat is built up on top (behind) these details. This method gives the limb a depth like real skin, and has the added benefit of resisting wear by being on the inside of a protective layer (about 1/8") of silicone. Fake nails similarly colored very much add to the effect. SacTownSue's comment is right on--in fact, several of the contractors who do this at Walter Reed for servicemembers who have lost limbs were formerly employed in Hollywood doing phantasmagoric and animatronic effects: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/05131/502644.stm.
curve127 years ago
There are two ways I can think of off hand to do the nail. One shape it with thin acrylic and heat bend it to shape. The other is cast it in the mold using something like the smooth on color match. Carefully brush it into the mold only where the nail sits. You can the even with a little white back paint where the (lunula) little half moon of white. With the nail still in the mold cast the silicone toe. If you glue something then to the back of the nail with an undercut before pouring the rubber, this will lock the nail into the toe. This is because there will be no bond between the silicone and the nail. Are you tinting the silicone with a flesh color? What silicone are you using? let me know if you have any further questions Good luck!
A work colleague, on discovering I sculpt, asked for similar help only his was the tip of his index finger. His reasons were jocular rather than seriously cosmetic, but even so I rustled up some examples (see pic). Ho how we laughed as he tried to make it fit. He did use them for the occasion party trick, dropping it into the prawn cocktail etc; it certainly broke the ice... Sorry, I digress, they are made from that quick drying clay plumbers and builders use called milliput, it is very light but very strong. When the clay digit is still soft I pushed the end into his stump for a snug fit. When dry I mixed different shades of acrylic paint on each and used gloss varnish on the smoothed out nail bit. He picked out his favourite The big prob was getting to stay in place, hence the jocularity. I would imagine open toed sandals would help in your case and a dab of theatrical glue, worn over panty hose/tights (I presume you are a girl, if not I'm cool on that stuff!) I'm sure you would get away with it. Good luck, can't wait to see the instructable. PS. As you can see, he bit his nails.
C:\Documents and Settings\chris\My Documents\Work\My Pictures\fingers\ Joe's fingers .jpg
NachoMahma7 years ago
> Best bet is probably the people that make movie... . Exactly what I was thinking. GMTA
I'm going out on a limb here, but what about buying a fake, rubber foot, and then cutting off the toe, and inserting an attachment for your toe?
"I'm going out on a limb here"

ba-dum-pchhhhhh.

Not even sure if you intended for there to be a pun. I hope you're not easily offended. I think making a mold of a toe may work, but Weissen's idea sounds ... feasible.

Interesting though, I know someone who just lost the tip of one of their fingers due to complications from an infection regarding medical treatments. Scary stuff!
See my response to Cameron's post/
I hope that pun was unintentional, because that is a really bad pun. :-)
It definitely was unintentional.
SacTownSue7 years ago
Not sure what to tell you but I hope you do an instructable on it when done. For the nail, unless you want to show a lot of white you could put a couple of coats of nail polish, clear or black if you prefer. Or a hard marine type, matte or satin, finish. Make you own acrylic nail on the foot. Remove her imprint from the cast foot. Then paint over it. For color probably need a dye instead of paint. Ask the people that do the prosthesis. How do you...? What do you use? Thanks. I'll let you know when I have the money to do this. Best bet is probably the people that make movie... monsters and prosthesis, aging effects, etc.