Ingrown Toenail Surgery: When, Why, and How?

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Early discomforts of an ingrown toenail can be treated at home using various strategies. But recurring ingrown toenails may require surgery. Don’t worry—ingrown toenail surgery is the most common surgery done by podiatrists. Discomfort and recovery time is minimal before you’re back on your feet (and toes!).

 When and Why Surgery for Ingrown Toenail Is Needed

  • The natural shape of your toenail

One reason for needing surgery for an ingrown nail could be the shape of your toenail. A toenail that naturally curves heavily toward the surrounding skin can cause recurring pain that grooming alone simply cannot manage. Permanent removal of the border of the nail can eliminate the continued pain, pressure, and infections.

If you continue to get ingrown toenails even after changing the shoes you wear and adjusting the way you cut your toenails, see a podiatrist to determine if surgery is the answer to end your recurring ingrown toenails. Partial removal of the nail is very effective at preventing future ingrown toenails.

  • The thickness of your toenail

Another reason you could need toenail surgery is the thickness of your toenail, which can cause recurring ingrown toenails. A thick toenail can press into the surrounding skin of the toe. In these cases, removal of the toenail is needed.

Regular grooming and maintenance of a thick toenail won’t be enough to eliminate the recurring pain and pressure the nail is causing. Removal of the toenail means you’ll never experience ingrown toenails again!

 How Ingrown Toenail Surgery Is Done

  • Partial Toenail Removal

When partial toenail removal is needed, your podiatrist will numb your toe completely. A precise border of the toenail is cut free of the nail bed. The nail bed is not cut—only the nail plate. Phenol is then applied to the nail bed to keep that portion of the nail from growing back.

  • Complete Toenail Removal

Your podiatrist will numb your toe and provide a local pain injection. Once the toe is prepared, the nail plate is cut free of the nail bed. Just as with partial toenail removal, only the nail plate is removed and not the nail bed. The chemical phenol is applied to the entire nail bed to prevent any part of the nail from growing back.

What Happens After Surgery

Discomfort and recovery time is minimal. After surgery, your toe is bandaged and you’ll continue care at home.

  • Keep your foot rested and raised for a day or two
  • Bandage can be removed after 2 days
  • Soak your foot daily in a salt water bath until completely healed
  • Wear open-toed or soft shoes until completely healed
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed and you can take pain medication for any discomfort

Your podiatrist will walk you through all the specifics of what to bring with you for the surgery and what to do after surgery.

Surgery for ingrown toenails is very effective at putting an end to recurring ingrown toenails. End the constant pain and pressure around your toenails by seeking guidance from a podiatrist for the best solution for you!


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