Alexandriea (Alex) Watson, a 9-year-old Northwest Elementary School student, underwent amputation surgery to remove her left foot at the Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas Tuesday morning, and the procedure was more extensive than had been expected.

Watson was diagnosed with morphea, or “hard skin” in August 2005. The condition moved rapidly through Watson’s body, in particular, her left foot.

The family discovered Monday that surgeons would need to remove more than just the effected foot.

“The doctor said that because of wound healing issues, the amputation would be higher than they originally anticipated,” said Watson’s mother Amanda.

The three-plus hour surgery saw doctor’s remove Watson’s left leg, beginning at three inches below the knee.

“She is dealing with it,” Amanda Watson said. “I am not going to lie, she is not in the greatest mood, but, she is dealing with it.”

To combat pain, Alex Watson was given epidural anesthesia.

“She is deadened from the waist down,” Amanda Watson said. “The doctors said that is necessary because there are ‘phantom pains’ associated with most amputations.”

The Watsons are set to return home June 12, but will not permanently say good-bye to Scottish Rites.

“Because she is in a growth stage, the bone in her leg is going to continue to want to grow,” Amanda Watson said. “We were told that another surgery would be necessary to take care of that before she is fitted for her prosthesis.”

Prosthetic fitting is scheduled for late-August or early September.

While examining Watson Monday, one of the doctor’s noticed abnormalities in the girl’s right hand.

“She is going to have to wear a brace on her hand now,” Amanda Watson said. “The doctors said they want to stabilize her hand because (morphea) could actually start crippling her fingers.”

Alex Watson has been looking forward to the removal of a “bad leg.” During a May interview, Alex said she was excited about the surgery.

“Now I will be able to do cheerleading and play basketball,” Alex Watson said earlier. “There are a lot of things that I can’t do the way I want to.”

To ease the emotional and physical pain she has endured, Alex Watson will receive a surprise visit by two Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Friday morning.

“We are so grateful,” Amanda Watson said.

The Scleroderma Foundation’s Web site states that morphea can cause a wide variety of problems, from skin discoloration to internal organ damage. The exact cause of morphea is unknown and not contagious. It’s typically chronic or recurrent, but not hereditary. Researchers believe a reaction of the immune system plays a role in the development of the condition. There is no cure, but some cases can be managed with medical treatment. Some treatments are directed at particular symptoms such as heartburn or high blood pressure.