Abstract Despite optimistic reports about the results of amputation for advanced vascular disease, the patient's assessment of advantages and disadvantages is seldom acknowledged. A detailed social study of 67 amputees has revealed considerable disparity between the patient's views and those of the medical staff. About a third of the patients are forced to retire from active work by the amputation; about three-quarters report a serious decline in their social activities; only about half are really independent with prostheses in the long term; a quarter report severe and intractable symptoms related to their amputation stumps; only about a quarter feel that the amputation was definitely beneficial; and only about one in five feel that the medical staff have provided adequate support during their hospital stay. Amputees face physical and financial disability, isolation, and discomfort. Every effort must be made to explain the implications of amputation honestly and realistically and to ensure continuing patient assessment and support.