Walking in high heels is a strenuous effort made by many women who tip-toe, lose their balance, and slip as they break in their shoes. Heather Abbott has to re-learn how to walk in heels using a special prosthetic leg, months after losing her left leg in the Boston Marathon bombings in April. Abbott was spotted standing tall in her pair of black leather Nine West shoes with peep-toed 4-inch spiked heels and painted red toe nails on both her feet this Thursday. The Newport, R.I., native, who calls herself a “professional heel-wearer” always preferred to wear 4-inch heels before her leg was amputated.

"I can't believe how much it looks like a real foot," Abbott excitedly told the Associated Press. The human resources executive was ready to walk inside to the Forum Restaurant in Boston with friends when one of the two bombs went off a short distance away from the food establishment. Abbott’s left leg was severely injured, and she was forced to make a difficult decision, ultimately deciding to have it amputated below the knee.

Prosthetic legs serve to take the place of a lost limb due to either injury or disease by offering the functionality that was once offered by the lost limb, says amputee-coalition.org. In the field of prosthetics, artificial limbs are becoming increasingly similar to real limbs. "One of my biggest concerns was, what it was going to look like," Abbott said. Then Abbot learned about the possibility of having a specialized prosthetic leg for high heel wear after encountering a woman at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston who had a similar leg like Abbott’s.

The high heel prosthetic came approximately a week ago from Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics, a Manchester, N.H.-based company with offices in Warwick and Newton, Mass. The company built the interior of Abbott’s prosthetic, which mirrors the shape of her right leg and foot. Then, the British company Dorset matched the color of the prosthetic to that of her skin, adding freckles and even a little bit of razor burn, Yahoo! News reports. The foot was also designed so Abbott can give herself a pedicure to make it her own.

Matthew Albuquerque, president of Next Step, said seven of the leg amputees from the Boston bombings have been treated with their equipment. The process of designing any prosthetic leg is not easy, according to Albuquerue. "Having a leg look like a leg sounds like something that should be very basic, but it's not," he said. In addition, the company does not usually make a leg prosthetic for a 4-inch heel – with the most being two or three inches – but they catered to the high heel guru’s wishes. Albuquerque does applaud Abbott for the incredible progress she has made in such a short amount of time. Based on his experiences, most people would not be able to walk in heels after just a few months with a prosthetic, but Abbott is determined.

Basic rehab for acclimating a patient to his or her new limb usually starts with walking while using parallel bars to offer support — this teaches good balance and coordination. There is a chance of the patient experiencing an unexpected collapse when the body’s full weight is placed on the new prosthetic, especially if the patient has one sound leg, says the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, so it's important to start with some physical support. Eventually, patients decrease this dependence on the bars and get used to walking on their own.

Abbott had already trained herself on several different prosthetic legs before receiving the high-heel version. She got her first one in June and has since then received other prosthetics for running and for going in the ocean (she's an avid paddle boardier). The series of prosthetics — especially the latest — have helped Abbott regain her self-confidence and eased her anxiety about how the leg looks. She was spotted wearing a skirt on Thursday – something she hasn’t done for fear that the other prosthetics didn’t look real.

The Boston Globe reports a total of 16 people lost one or both legs in the Boston Marathon bombings. Within the upcoming months, more people will follow Abbott in taking their first baby step on their new prosthetic legs.