Cosmesis is the art of making a prosthetic limb appear lifelike. Sometimes cosmesis refers to a removable covering such as a glove that fits on a prosthetic hand, or flesh colored stockings that slip over a prosthetic leg. Cosmesis has advanced to the point where it is often difficult to tell by simply looking that a hand, arm or leg is not “real.” The newer cosmeses are made of urethanes and silicones, while older styles are usually a type of vinyl called PVC.
The shape of the cosmesis is based on an impression of the person’s sound limb so that the proportions are exactly the same. Airbrushing the surface can allow for subtle variations in color, especially around the joints and on the palm of the hand. Fingers and toes can have acrylic nails, complete with half moons at the base and white nail tips. Details such as veins, freckles, hairs and even tattoos are now routinely included as part of cosmesis.