Before we dive into how an ingrown toenail surgery is performed, let’s refresh your memory about how this condition occurs.
Medically known as onychogryphosis, ingrown toenails develop when the edges or corners of the toenails curl downwards and dig into the skin next to your toenail. It is a very common condition, especially in people who wear shoes that squish their toes together or have feet that are bent downward.
Having said that, the most common symptom of an ingrown toenail is pain as the ingrown toenail has grown into the flesh along the side of your nail. There may be redness and swelling as well as discomfort when wearing shoes or socks.
Aside from wearing improper footwear, cutting your toenails too short or injuring them can also cause ingrown toenails to develop. Luckily, there are two ways to treat ingrown toenails – surgery and non-surgical treatments. However, this depends on your ingrown toenail diagnosis.
When your ingrown toenail is mildly inflamed (slightly red and sore), your doctor will most likely recommend the following home care tips to prevent the need for further treatment.
● Soaking your affected foot in warm water 3-4 times daily
● Keeping your foot dry throughout the day
● Wearing comfortable shoes with adequate room for your toes
● Taking pain-relieving medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen
● Applying topical antibiotics to prevent infection
If these home care tips fail to resolve your ingrown toenail or you experience recurring ingrown toenails or have an underlying medical condition that makes complications more likely, your doctor may recommend ingrown toenail surgery.
If your ingrown toenail is severely inflamed with excessive swelling and pain, your toenail is likely infected and should be treated by a doctor immediately. Depending on your situation, part of your ingrown toenail or the entire toenail may be removed.
During your ingrown toenail surgery, you will be given either local anaesthesia to numb your toe or general anaesthesia if you’re anxious about the surgery. Regardless of your choice of anaesthetic, surgery can help treat your ingrown toenail by preventing the nail edge from growing inward and cutting into the fleshy folds as your toenail grows forward.
There are several types of ingrown toenail surgery:
● Lifting the nail – If your toenail is slightly ingrown with some redness and pain, but with no pus, your doctor may carefully lift the ingrowing nail edge and place cotton, dental floss, or a splint under it. This separates the nail from the overlying skin and
helps the nail grow above the skin edge.
● Partially removing the nail – If you have severe ingrown toenails (redness, pain, and pus), your doctor may trim or remove the ingrown portion of the nail. Before this surgery, your doctor may numb your toe with an anaesthetic.
● Removing the nail and tissue – If you experience recurring ingrown toenails on the same toe, your doctor may suggest removing the nail along with the underlying tissue to prevent that part of your nail from growing back.
After your ingrown toenail surgery, you should no longer experience pain or skin irritation which may lead to infection. But, once your anaesthesia wears off, you might experience pain which is common and can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers.
That said, these ingrown toenail surgery procedures generally yield great results with a high success rate as patients reveal that their toenails tend to grow naturally with a better appearance after the surgery.
When your ingrown toenail is left untreated, you’re increasing the risk of bacterial infection into the bone in your toe. Not only that, but a toenail infection can also lead to foot ulcers or open sores, and a loss of blow flow to the infected area. Tissue decay and tissue death at the site of infection are also possible.
Additionally, if you have a genetic predisposition to ingrown toenails, they may keep coming back or appear on multiple toes at once. Your quality of life may be affected by the pain, infections, and other painful issues that require multiple treatments or surgeries. In this case, your doctor may suggest a partial or total removal of the toenails to relieve the pain.
Instead of suffering in pain and letting it affect your quality of life, it’s best to seek immediate help, especially if you have diabetes or other condition that can cause poor blood flow to
At Spire Orthopaedic Centre, we believe that everyone should be cared for and healed holistically in comfort without having to travel to different locations to seek medical and surgical help and rehabilitation support.
With a combined facility for collaboration between physicians, physiotherapists, and surgeons, you will experience a seamless service from diagnosis to treatment and rehabilitation, that’s tailored just for you at our clinic.