What is ingrown toenail surgery?
Ingrown toenail surgery involves the surgical removal of either part or all of your toenail. Ingrown toenails occur when part of your toenail grows into the flesh of your toe. Most ingrown toenails happen in the top corner or side of the big toe, however other toenails can also become ingrown.
Toenails can become ingrown for a number of reasons. The most common causes include:
- Cutting your toenails too short
- Cutting your toenails with too much of a curve
- Sustaining a toe or toenail injury
- Wearing shoes that are too tight around your toes
- A toenail that naturally grows in a curve.
Why do I need ingrown toenail surgery?
Most ingrown toenails can be treated at home. However, if you get a lot of ingrown toenails or are experiencing a skin infection surgery may be recommended. People with diabetes and conditions which affect the feet may also need to have this surgery.
Your doctor is likely to recommend ingrown toenail surgery if:
- Conservative home remedies have not worked
- You experience recurring ingrown toenails
What happens during ingrown toenail surgery?
During ingrown toenail surgery part or all of your toenail will be removed. This procedure may be done under local or general anaesthesia. Your doctor will discuss the procedure with you ahead of time and tell you what to expect. Your doctor will begin the procedure by cleaning your toe and numbing it with a local anaesthetic injection. Once your toe is numb, your doctor will use surgical instruments to detach the affected parts of your toenail from the nail bed. He or she will then remove the affected parts of your nail bed. This is to help prevent the outer parts of the nail from growing back into your skin. Your wounds will then be closed with fine stitches and finally a bandage will be applied.
Risks and potential complications of ingrown toenail surgery
Complications from ingrown toenail surgeries are rare but can include:
- Prolonged tenderness along the procedure site
- Wound infection
- A slow-healing wound (especially if you have diabetes or are a smoker)
- Recurrence of the ingrown toenail
- Infection of the underlying bone (extremely rare – and the reason for performing this in an operating theatre)
What is the cost of ingrown nail surgery?
Ingrown toenail surgery is an elective procedure that in Australia is currently performed mainly in clinics and hospitals. A portion of the cost for your ingrown toenail surgery may be covered by your private health insurance and you should discuss this with your provider.
Please contact the Sydney GI Surgery team to discuss your needs and for an accurate assessment of the cost involved.
Recovery from ingrown toenail surgery
Your toe will be sore for the first few days after surgery. This can usually be treated with over the counter pain relievers. Your doctor will give you instructions on how to care for the wound and when you should return for a check-up.
If your toenail was infected, you will probably also be prescribed antibiotics. Try to rest your foot and limit your activity for at least a week after surgery. It’s a good idea to keep your foot elevated when you are sitting.
\You will need to wear either open-toed shoes or thongs for two weeks after surgery. It is very important you keep your foot and bandage clean and dry for the first two weeks. You can return to your normal activities once your stitches are removed, however, you should avoid running and jumping for the first four weeks.