Surgical procedures are commonly performed by podiatrists to treat recurrent nail problems, such as ingrown nails. An ingrown toenail is a nail that has pierced (or is pressing against) the adjacent skin of the toe causing pain and inflammation and sometimes infection.
Surgery may be required when an ingrown toenail repeatedly gets infected, is painful, the sufferer is unable to wear shoes or the condition inhibits work, sport or other activities.
Nail surgery performed by podiatrists
One of the most common nail procedures is partial nail avulsion. The procedure is usually performed in podiatrists’ rooms and the patient is able to walk immediately afterwards.
What does a partial nail avulsion involve?
The procedure itself is generally performed under local anaesthetic via injection to the toe to numb the area. The anaesthetic will most often wear off in about an hour.
Once numb, a tight elastic ring called a tourniquet is applied to the toe to control bleeding and the area is prepped to minimise risk of infection.
The portion of nail to be removed is then gently lifted and resected, generally without the toe being cut or stitched. Both sides of the entire nail may be removed this way. A chemical is used to assist in preventing nail re-growth.
Once the procedure is completed, the tourniquet is removed and a sterile surgical dressing is applied. The patient is able to walk immediately afterwards, however assistance getting home is strongly recommended.
What happens after the procedure?
Re-dressing at home and a few consultations with your podiatrist may be required following the procedure.
Minimal pain relief medication is required – you can discuss this with your podiatrist.
What are the potential complications?
All nail procedures have been associated with a slight chance of recurrence. Infection whilst the wound is healing can also be an issue.
Your podiatrist can advise you and manage these and other complications that may occur.
All surgical procedures have some risks of complication; however, this procedure is associated with a low rate of complications. Again, you should discuss this with your podiatrist.
How your podiatrist can help
Regular visits to your podiatrist can manage and prevent ingrown toenails, alleviate pain and help keep you on your feet and mobile.
Information sourced from The Australian Podiatry Association