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What Is Ingrown Toenail Surgery?

A podiatrist should first explore non-surgical alternatives before scheduling surgery.
Attempts at treating ingrown toenails at home don't always work, making surgery a better treatment option.
A scalpel is a common tool used for making incisions.
Article Details
  • Written By: Phil Shepley
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
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The condition known as onychocryptosis, more commonly referred to as an ingrown toenail, can be quite painful, especially if left untreated. Many people attempt home remedies to fix this common ailment with no success, and the symptoms can quickly worsen. Ingrown toenail surgery is a medical procedure to correct the problem. It must be performed by a professional, such as a podiatrist. Surgery is usually the only way to remedy onychocryptosis, as well as to prevent its return in the future.

An ingrown toenail occurs when one or both sides of the toenail grow toward the skin on the sides of any toe. The extended portion of the toenail becomes sharp and eventually makes its way into the skin. As a result, the skin can become red, swollen, and infected. An infection will usually cause a discolored liquid around the painful swelling. Attempts to fix ingrown toenails at home usually result in more problems and pain, mainly because the swollen sides of the toe are too painful to attempt to get underneath.

The most effective way to cure a case of onychocryptosis is to have ingrown toenail surgery. One of the main reasons this is more effective than a home remedy is that a foot doctor can administer anesthesia to the affected area of the toe and foot. This alleviates the pain and allows for the ingrown toenail surgery to be performed while the patient, who can be either sitting or lying down, remains somewhat comfortable.

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After sterilizing the ingrown toenail, the surrounding area is numbed with a local anesthetic. Next, the doctor removes the portion of the toenail causing the problem. The swollen skin that lies over the ingrown toenail must be pushed aside, allowing a doctor to insert a pair of forceps underneath. The doctor extracts enough of the toenail so it no longer makes contact with the inflamed skin.

The surgeon performing the ingrown toenail surgery then cleans and cauterizes the swollen or infected area. This means blood flow is stopped through the use of a chemical agent. The toe is then bandaged, and the surgery is done. The patient can typically return home at this point, but must take care of the toe by cleaning it and redressing it two to three times per day. If an infection reoccurs after several weeks, he or she should return to the doctor to avoid more serious complications.

Although ingrown toenail surgeries are designed to prevent the issue from reoccurring, problems can usually return in the same place. Proper foot care is encouraged to avoid the onset of recurrence of onychocryptosis. It is best to wear shoes that are not too tight and allow for proper airflow. It is also important to keep the feet dry and to cut toenails correctly at a ninety-degree angle.

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