Nail surgery

If in-growing toe nails are persistent, painful and recurring, it may be appropriate to have a minor surgical procedure carried out, under local anaesthetic, which in most cases will cure the problem and prevent the painful part of the nail re-growing. If, after speaking with the podiatrist, you are advised to have nail surgery, a thorough assessment of your general health will be undertaken, as this can affect your ability to heal, and any questions or concerns you have will be addressed.

As the procedure will be carried out under local anaesthetic, there is no need to fast prior to treatment, indeed, we recommend that you have a light bite to eat prior to your appointment. For your comfort, we advise that you bring a pair of open-toed or loose fitting shoes with you to accommodate the dressing.

Upon your arrival, you will be asked to remove your shoes and socks. The anaesthetic will be administered and time allowed for it to take full effect. Your feet will be prepared for surgery using an iodine-based cleansing solution, and then covered in a surgical drape, leaving only the affected toe/s requiring treatment exposed. Once you and the podiatrist are happy that your toe is completely numb, a torniquet is applied to the base of the toe to temporarily halt the flow of blood.

The troublesome part of the nail is removed, and a substance called phenol is applied to the area of the toe where the nail grows from, to prevent any re-growth. The torniquet is removed and a dressing applied, which must be kept dry until your re-dressing appointment (usually the following day). Once the podiatrist is happy with the procedure, you will be able to leave. Transport home should be arranged, and the rest of the day spent with your foot elevated.

Any sports should be avoided for at least two weeks. In general, if care is taken, and advice followed, the area should heal completely in 6 to 8 weeks, although it is often quicker. If there is any discomfort following surgery, a paracetamol based painkiller may be taken, but avoid those containing aspirin. It is common for blood to leak through the dressing. However, if this happens and you are concerned, or if the dressing becomes loose, contact your podiatrist.

You will be asked to return for the first of your re-dressing appointments the following day, when we can assess your overnight response and progress. The toe will be re-dressed with a smaller dressing, and strict instructions on how you must care for the toe at home will be given, along with a supply of sterile dressings for you to use as directed. Care should be taken to avoid excessive pressure on the area for the next two to three weeks.