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There are many instances of advanced/accelerated healing in the Harry Potter books. For example, in book 2 Harry regrows bones, in book 6 Tonks fixes Harry's broken nose in an instant, and in book 7 Hermione uses essence of dittany to help Ron's splinched arm heal faster.

Then there's this passage from The Deathly Hallows chapter 5: Fallen Warrior:

By the lamplight Harry saw a clean, gaping hole where George's ear had been.

'How is he?'

Mrs Weasley looked round and said, 'I can't make it grow back, not when it's been removed by Dark Magic.'

This pretty clearly implies that ears, at least, can be grown back so long as Dark Magic didn't take the ear in the first place. But is the same true of limbs and other body parts? What if Harry loses a kidney in Quidditch? Would Madam Pomfrey be able to grow him another one?

I realize that Moody has lost an eye, a leg, and much of his nose and doesn't have them back. However, given the above I think that's probably because he lost them to Dark Magic, being an Auror who fought Death Eaters.

So Dark Magic aside, should any part of the body be regenerable? Or are there limits to magical healing regardless of how the damage was incurred? Something that would indicate this would be an instance of "sorry, this is too severe, magic can't fix it" in the books.

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5 Answers 5

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In Half-Blood Prince, during Apparition lessons, Susan Bones splinched her entire leg off.

There was a horrible screech of pain and everybody looked around, terrified, to see Susan Bones of Hufflepuff wobbling in her hoop with her left leg still standing five feet away where she had started.

The Heads of House converged on her; there was a great bang and a puff of purple smoke, which cleared to reveal Susan sobbing, reunited with her leg but looking horrified.

Half-Blood Prince - page 361 - Bloomsbury - chapter 18, Birthday Surprises

It appears that the teachers were able to put Susan's leg back on, but that's a little different than growing a new leg. However, since you listed Ron's splinching in your original question, I thought it would be okay to mention Susan Bones's splinching incident.

I don't think that limbs can necessarily be regenerated. Read what Dumbledore says here:

‘As to our second new appointment,’ Dumbledore continued, as the lukewarm applause for Professor Lupin died away, ‘well, I am sorry to tell you that Professor Kettleburn, our Care of Magical Creatures teacher, retired at the end of last year in order to enjoy more time with his remaining limbs. However, I am delighted to say that his place will be filled by none other than Rubeus Hagrid, who has agreed to take on this teaching job in addition to his gamekeeping duties.’

Prisoner of Azkaban - page 73 - Bloomsbury - chapter 5, The Dementors

This seems to imply that Professor Kettleburn lost his limbs to magical creatures; no mention is made of Dark Magic. However, it's clear that Professor Kettleburn lost limbs and was unable to regenerate them. The circumstances surrounding why he was unable to regenerate are unknown. Was it impossible to regenerate limbs, especially the larger ones? Was Professor Kettleburn not near any kind of Healer or Madam Pomfrey, the matron? This is not addressed, but it is clear he was unable to regenerate his limbs.

This may not count. But Wormtail's hand was lost to Dark Magic when he cut it off to make the regeneration potion for Voldemort, and Voldemort gave Wormtail, by magic, his new, silver magical hand. This is an example of a magically regenerated limb, although it is not of flesh and blood.

Most importantly, though, I almost want to say the entire series is about "Sorry, this is too severe, magic can't fix it." The series revolves around an antagonist who desperately wants to conquer death, yet despite the lengths he went to, in the end he was merely mortal, like everybody else.

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    I'd disagree entirely with Wormtail's silver hand being an example of a magically regenerated limb; it's essentially a magically created prosthetic. Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 9:47
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    Strictly speaking, you CAN easily conquer Death, if you aren't a frigging power hungry hubris-blind wacko. If Voldemort merely murdered 7 random Muggles, hidden the Horcruxes, AND lied low, he'd be living forever. Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 16:39
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    @DVK And if he had done that, Nicolas Flamel and his wife would still be running around too.
    – Windle
    Commented Dec 10, 2012 at 20:06
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    Dumbledore could've been joking about Kettleburn's limbs. Commented Dec 17, 2012 at 13:13
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    I just thought of something else: if it was trivial to regrow any human skin/bone/tissue, then you wouldn't have any issues with body parts not working right: anyone with a non-working leg would get the leg numbed, cut off, and regenerated. So either a) regeneration is really difficult, b) it's super painful, c) you can put people back together but you can't make new limbs (so splinched people can be fixed if their appendages can be found) or d) this isn't internally consistant in the series because it's a made up world so that kind of stuff happens. Commented Dec 17, 2012 at 13:18
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WoG spent some time thinking about this... Illness and Disability on Pottermore.

Excerpt:

I decided that, broadly speaking, wizards would have the power to correct or override 'mundane' nature, but not 'magical' nature. Therefore, a wizard could catch anything a Muggle might catch, but he could cure all of it; he would also comfortably survive a scorpion sting that might kill a Muggle, whereas he might die if bitten by a Venomous Tentacula. Similarly, bones broken in non-magical accidents such as falls or fist fights can be mended by magic, but the consequences of curses or backfiring magic could be serious, permanent or life-threatening.

So it would seem that non-magical physical injuries can be fully healed, while a magical injury may not be so easy...

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    That's kind of inconsistent with regrowing Harry's bones. It was a magical accident that removed his bones, and Skelegrow was on hand and clearly a common enough remedy. I know you say "may not be so easy", but while painful, it seems to be simple enough.
    – Jane S
    Commented Mar 12, 2016 at 14:37
  • @JaneS More like magical ineptitude that removed his bones.. A fraud doing something isn't an 'accident' is it? It's intentional but as (iirc) he said the one thing he's good at is memory charms. That doesn't mean he wouldn't do the other things though. Bottom line is he cast the spell on purpose and so you can't truthfully call it an accident; well truthfully and accurately.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 0:43
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    @Pryftan I actually just re-read this a few weeks ago, and I saw it as pure incompetence from Lockhart. He thought he could fix his arm, but it went awry due to his lack of skill with that particular spell. It was not the intended outcome to hurt Harry, so by the very definition of the word, it was an accident. Yes, Lockhart was a massive fraud, but he bore no malice towards Harry. In fact he saw him as a meal ticket to greater popularity and fame.
    – Jane S
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 1:01
  • @JaneS I cannot deny that he didn't mean to hurt Harry (though at the end of the book he was going to and he had no problem hurting anyone and everyone for his reputation and fame) and so the removal of bones was not intentional. However he still deliberately did something and he was incompetent and therefore that part was not an accident. Hopefully that makes more sense? It's about intent: whether or not he intended to cause Harry a problem it's still his fault and he willingly cast the spell. But the fact he didn't mean to harm him is what matters (but casting the spell was intentional).
    – Pryftan
    Commented Sep 20, 2018 at 13:09
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I'm happy to see that I'm not the only one that has the strange and sudden thoughts. I think it's a complicated answer. We would need to take all the answers above mine and do a mash-up of them to reach a definite conclusion. I agree on the dark magic wound subject. Moody lost and never regrew his body parts because he probably fell to a curse each time. Fred can't regrow his ear because it was dark magic that took it. So we can conclude that dark magic wounds can't be regrown.

Molly's dialogue in chapter 5 of the Deathly Hallows gives also an indication. She COULD'VE regrown his ear if it was not for dark magic. Now the ear is flesh and cartilage. It also contains nerves but not in a huge quantity. So we can assume that flesh, cartilage and nerves can be regrown to an extent.

Now it's the extent that needs to be discussed. The ear is a rather small body part but what would happen if a hand or a leg was cut? These are bigger and more complex body parts. We know wizarding doctors can regrow bones with the use of Skele-gro which is pretty impressive in itself. So for example if someone lost the lower half of his leg and he was given Skele-gro, would the bone grow back out in the open or does still having the flesh around but empty inside make a difference? What Dumbledore said about Professor Kettleburn is interesting. Why didn't the Professor have them regrow (if it's possible)? Is it the circumstances? Was he in a position where he couldn't be treated immediately and then it was too late? Is it the type of wound? People assume that Kettleburn didn't lose his limbs by dark magic but what kind of non-dark magic creature would make you lose a limb in the first place? We have to consider that it might also be a joke or word play from Dumbledore.

There is also the medic that needs to be taken in consideration. While Poppy isn't bad, she isn't the best either. There might be lots of medics at St Mungo that are better than her and have more experience regarding our case. There might be experts on limb regrowning. And we haven't encountered them in the books (mainly because we thankfully didn't need them).

On the subject of splinching, I don't think it can be used as an example or a basis. The two examples given above kind of contradict themselves. After Ron's splinching, in the book and in the movie we know he had been badly injured. He lost some of his flesh as if someone had peeled some parts of his skin off to the muscle under it. In the movie there's seemingly no blood, probably to keep the rating down but it looked pretty bad. BUT he technically didn't lose a limb? After Susan's splinching, she apparently lost her leg. BUT with just a flick of her wand, McGonagall or another head of house, it's not really clear who, set things straight. I'm sure a flick of a wand wouldn't be enough to reattach a hand some lost because it was cut off with a knife. And when Susan "lost" her leg she didn't fall down from the pain, blood gushing from her stump so I think splinching in general is irrelevant and can't be taken in consideration.

Personally I think it should be possible. In JK's universe so many things can be done with magic, why would regrowning a limb be impossible? I think hellfire17 gave an interesting and valid answer too!

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Unfortunately there isn't a lot of information in the books on the healing capabilities of the wizarding world as a whole. Yes, there are some facts available, but those facts don't always add up perfectly and can sometimes appear contradictory. However, on the information we do have:

  • We have never seen a limb out right regenerated in the HP universe.
  • We have seen limbs reattached in the HP universe. (The splinching incident with Susan Bones in Half Blood Prince)
  • We have seen a version of regeneration that left a hand exactly the same as before, with the same abilities, however silver; so it is debatable whether or not this is true regeneration of limbs, rather than just a prosthetic, is unclear. (When Voldemort regrew Wormtail's hand in Goblet of Fire)
  • We have seen bones regrown in an arm. (Harry Potter in the Chamber of Secrets)
  • We have heard someone state that an ear could've been regrown if it hadn't been taken by Dark Magic (Molly in the Deathly Hallows)
  • We have several cases of people missing body parts:
    • Mad-Eye Moody who was an Auror, meaning he regularly encountered Dark Magic, and could have often been hit by curses. (Goblet of Fire)
    • The old Care of Magical Creatures teacher who, Dumbledore mentioned in a throwaway line, was retiring to spend time with his remaining limbs (Prisoner of Azkaban)

To further analyse the last point, there are several times where magical creatures have appeared to have effects on wizards and witches similar to that of Dark Magic. The first example of this was the throwaway line about the professor's limbs in PoA. So the credibility of how accurate this statement is, is debatable. The second is also in PoA, and is actually Draco who got scratched by a Hippogriff. He states that one more minute and he could've lost his arm. The Hippogriff was taken to trial as being too dangerous for it. In a school where broken noses from physical attacks are easily healed (several times throughout the series, such as Luna in Half Blood Prince), what was described as a scratch by a Hippogriff was unable to be healed instantly. Draco was able to play up his injury so much as to get out of things. This implies that the injury had to heal naturally, just like injuries of Dark Magic. Of course, having said all of this, it is possible that Draco was being dramatic, but the fact that everyone even took him seriously implies that injuries given to wizards and witches by magical creatures are dangerous to them. Other examples of magical creatures leaving permanent marks are Dementors and Werewolves. Dementors take away souls and they are impossible to grow back. If the werewolves bite someone on the full moon they become one, a process which is impossible to reverse. Also, Lupin and Bill both retained the scars from when they were attacked.

Injuries from Dark Magic, whether by dark spells or creatures, are not able to be healed by magic. That's what the above evidence points to. Therefore, limbs destroyed by magic cannot be regenerated, with only the possibility of them being reattached, as seen in Susan's spliniching incident. On that note, the reason why Ron wasn't able to be healed so easily could have been due to lack of knowledge (unlikely, because as if Hermione wouldn't have known), lack of skill (with Harry? No way they wouldn't have at least tried), or lack of being able to do anything without the flesh that they left behind. Therefore regeneration is not possible when the body part has been affected by Dark Magic or magical creatures. This includes the mind, as seen with Lockhart (He still wasn't healed by Order of the Phoenix) and Neville's parents who suffered under Crucio (Order of the Phoenix). The only evidence I found against this was in Chamber of Secrets when Harry's bones are regrown, and I would put it to the fact that the magic was not Dark due to the lack of malintent towards Harry by Lockhart, as opposed to the malintent later in the book when Lockhart tries to erase their memories before the spell backfires.

(Sorry, looking back on what I wrote, I completely forgot when Harry attacks Draco is the bath scene, to which I would state that Snape puts the blood back into Draco rather than regrows it. Draco is still injured enough to require to go to Madam Pomfrey.)

However, when there is no magic involved, a wide range of healing is able to be done. We never outright see it, but considering that bone, nerve, blood and flesh regrowth are all possible, and is seen throughout the series in various moments, along with the fact that such a functional prosthetic was created for Wormtail, it is highly likely that such a thing is possible.

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    +1, nice analysis. However, I'd argue that Hermione's inability to heal Ron was likely due to a lack of confidence instead of a lack of skill or knowledge: “It’s all I feel safe doing,” said Hermione shakily. “There are spells that would put him completely right, but I daren’t try in case I do them wrong and cause more damage....He’s lost too much blood already. . . . ”
    – Righter
    Commented Sep 17, 2022 at 4:16
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I believe it is a mix of both,no they can't out right regrow one with say a flick of a wand or potion, but rather slowly with several potions and spells. look at it this way if they can regenerate an ear which has no bones than they could conceivably do the same for lets say a leg. regenerate the skin and muscles then use skele-gro to add the bones. complicated sure but also worth it.

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    Welcome to the site! Thanks for your first contribution :) There are some good thoughts, here, I think, but any supporting evidence or citations you could provide would be really great
    – Au101
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 15:43

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