Ingrown toenail surgery, also known as onychocryptosis surgery, is an outpatient procedure often performed when conservative treatments for an ingrown toenail fail. When conservative treatments fail to treat the ingrown toenail, a foot doctor might recommend surgery as the next course of action. Here is what to expect from ingrown toenail surgery:
Before the Procedure
Your podiatrist may review your medical history and symptoms during your initial consultation and examine the affected toe. In preparation for the surgery, your doctor might give specific instructions. These could include avoiding certain medications, fasting for a few hours before surgery, or cleaning the toe with a special soap. On the day of the procedure, wear comfortable clothes and shoes that do not press on the affected toe. You might want to arrange for someone to drive you home afterward, as driving might be uncomfortable.
During the Surgery
The procedure begins with your doctor numbing your toe using a local anesthetic. This may cause a brief stinging sensation, but it will help you feel no pain during the surgery. After the anesthetic takes effect, your toe should be completely numb. Once the toe is numb, the doctor may begin the procedure. Using specialized tools, they carefully lift the edge of the ingrown nail. They then cut away the ingrown portion of the nail. In cases where the nail is severely ingrown or recurrent, your doctor might opt to remove the entire nail. Your doctor may apply phenol to the nail bed for recurring ingrown toenails. This can prevent that part of the nail from growing back, reducing the chance of future ingrown toenails.
The surgical procedure usually takes a few minutes, depending on the severity of the condition. This duration includes time for prepping and administering the local anesthesia. After the procedure, your doctor may take a few moments to observe your toe and confirm that there are no immediate complications. They also apply an antibiotic cream to the area to prevent infection. The toe is bandaged to protect the area and keep it clean. The bandage also helps to control bleeding and absorb any discharge.
After the Surgery
After undergoing ingrown toenail surgery, recovery is necessary to promote proper healing and prevent complications. Immediately after the procedure, you may experience some throbbing or slight discomfort as the anesthesia wears off. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be sufficient to manage discomfort, but your foot doctor may prescribe stronger medication if needed. Once you’re home, keep the area clean and dry to prevent infection. Your foot doctor may provide specific instructions on changing your bandages and applying antibiotic ointment.
For the first few days, you should rest and keep your foot elevated as much as possible. Avoid strenuous activities and avoid wearing tight shoes that could put pressure on the toe. Your doctor may also schedule a follow-up visit within one to two weeks to check your progress and remove stitches if they were used. Reach out to your doctor immediately if you spot any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. The healing process may vary, but most people can return to normal activities within a few weeks.
Work With a Reputable Foot Doctor
While the prospect of surgery can be daunting, ingrown toenail surgery is relatively simple and effective. Always consult with your healthcare provider to discuss your options and verify you make the best decision for your health. Podiatrists have extensive knowledge of the foot’s anatomy and are skilled in performing surgical procedures. They can accurately assess the severity of your condition, provide effective treatment, and guide you through recovery. They can offer advice to prevent future ingrown toenails. Seek the services of a reputable podiatrist today.