Given I have several people booked for nail surgery this month off the back of my previous blog, I thought I would expel any myths around nail surgery!
So what is nail surgery?
Nail surgery is a procedure podiatrists use to permanently correct an ingrowing toenail. An ingrowing toenail is where the skin curves and grows into the skin but it doesn’t have to be red and full of pus to be termed an ingrowing toenail. Unless you have suffered from an ingrowing toenail yourself, it is hard to imagine how painful they really are! It can start to affect all aspects of your life and can be quite unbearable! Check out my previous blog for information on what causes ingrowing toenails.
In most cases, we will try to rectify the problem with conservative treatment first. Sometimes this isn’t possible, it fails to solve the problem or we suggest its unlikely to work and so we recommend nail surgery.
Nail surgery is a MINOR procedure! Its no worse than going to the dentist to have a tooth taken out! The procedure is always done by the same podiatrist you have seen at previous appointments and the procedure takes place in the same room as normal treatment, not a theatre. You may be advised to take the whole nail taken off, although 9 times out of 10 only a small section of nail needs to be removed leaving you with plenty of nail to paint in the summer!
What happens during nail surgery?
Anaesthetic – or its just a form of torture!
Firstly your toe will be numbed using a local anaesthetic. This is the same stuff as dentists use – we even use the same type of syringe and needle! I always say to my patients that I wont lie, this isn’t pain free – what injection is! It’s over very quickly and the pain isn’t the needle you are feeling but the stretching of your toe as we push lots of anaesthetic into it! Once the injection is finished you will feel no further discomfort! In fact most people tell me that the pain they suffered from the ingrowing toenail is far worse than the injection and that once the operation is finished they never experience that level of pain in the toe again!
Removing the nail section
Once we are both happy the toe is numb this usually takes about 5 mins, the procedure starts. We apply a colourful rubber ring around the base of the toe. Unfortunately you and I don’t get to choose our favourite colour! It is dictated by the size of your toe – so if you ever see me using a blue one – you know you have a very big great toe!! The procedure for removing the nail section is actually very quick and usually within a minute or two of starting, the nail/nail section is off! Problem solved! There is no blood, guts and gore and you are now more than over half way through the procedure!
Stopping it from coming back
If we left the nail like this, the problem will most definitely return, usually worse. We therefore use a chemical called phenol to prevent it from coming back. It takes 3 minutes to apply this successfully.
Bandaging you up!
I am known for my large bandages! I do this for 2 reasons 1) the obvious sympathy vote and 2) to remind you that you have had something done! Its amazing how many chair legs jump out from no where when you have a ingrowing toenail or just had surgery! At West Berkshire Foot Clinic we use a honey dressing which cuts the normal healing time in half in most cases.
We give you some advice on caring for your toe and give you the dressings needed and then you are on your way! The only things you have to do are rest for the rest of the day and keep your foot elevated! The anaesthetic usually wears off after 2-4 hours and most people say there is no pain or discomfort afterwards.
We usually see our patients back within the week and you are looking at 2-4 weeks for complete healing (slightly longer when the whole nail is removed). Once healed the nail will look normal, and you will be back to enjoying all the things your ingrowing toenail were stopping you from doing before!
So in answer to the title question – apart from a little discomfort when the local anaesthetic is given, the procedure is totally pain free and a total breeze!
So if you have an ingrowing toenail or think you do – speak with us today on 01635 791301 why wait? People say their lives have been totally transformed having the surgery and that they wish they had done it sooner!