The thought of surgery is upsetting or even frightening, for both the patient and their loved ones. This is natural and feeling anxious is only to be expected. However, if you need podiatric surgery for complaints like ingrown nails, you have less to worry about.
Read on to understand what to expect with nail podiatric surgery or a toenail podiatry surgery, and how to prepare for it.
What is nail podiatric surgery?
Nail podiatric surgery is the most common type of podiatric surgery. It is usually related to ingrown toenails, but could also be performed for other complaints like fungal infections in the nail beds or for accidents that have damaged the toenails.
What is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown toenail grows into the flesh of the toe, instead of within the confines of the nail bed. The nail presses into the flesh, causing inflammation, infection and pus formation, which can become very painful.
Ingrown toenails are often caused by:
- Poor nail cutting technique
- Naturally/genetically defective or curved nail shape
- Footwear that is too tight
- Sports or activities that involve major force or repeated blows to your feet: like kickboxing or football
Treating ingrown nails at home
Toenails that are mildly painful can be treated at home. Here’s what you can do:
- Soak your feet in warm water a few times a day
- Once your nails are softened, use a cotton swab soaked in antiseptic cream to push the nail away from the flesh and back into place
- Apply an antiseptic cream to the area to prevent bacteria from settling in
- Avoid wearing tight shoes or boots that press on your toenails
- Keep your feet clean and dry
- When clipping your toenails, cut in a straight line and don’t clip them too short
If the discomfort doesn’t go away in a few days, if the toenail is infected, or if you have health complications like diabetes or poor circulation, you should see a Podiatrist.
Podiatrists dread seeing botched ‘bathroom surgeries’ that patients have attempted by themselves because it makes it harder to treat the problem. Also, the condition can get significantly worse if you aggravate the infection or allow it to fester.
Should I be nervous about my nail podiatric surgery?
No, you shouldn’t. And here’s why.
- It’s a routine procedure: Nail surgery is one of the most common complaints that podiatrists in Australia, and an average podiatrist will perform multiple procedures in a week.
- You don’t need general anaesthetic: For many people, the idea of being unconscious or sedated during surgery is upsetting. But nail surgery is performed under local anaesthetic, so you are conscious or awake during the surgery.
- You can go home the same day: Nail surgery is an out-patient surgery, which means you don’t need a stay in hospital after it is over.
- Nail surgery is a permanent solution that will save you a lot of discomfort and potential complications in the future
Suddenly this seems a lot less intimidating, doesn’t it?
However, there will be some post-operative restrictions in terms of medication and mobility, and you should adhere to them so that you can recover completely from your toenail podiatry surgery.
When should you get nail podiatric surgery?
For podiatrist ingrown toenail surgery, your podiatrist will first try to treat you with a combination of topical creams, changing your foot care habits, and maybe even anti-inflammatory medicines. However, if the condition becomes chronic or very painful, podiatric surgery is a permanent solution.
For other complaints of the toenails, your doctor will recommend surgery for recurring conditions, or if the infection has become more serious.
What to expect during nail surgery?
If you have scheduled nail podiatric surgery, you should present with clean, unpolished toenails with no jewellery on your feet.
The procedure will take place in a sterile area or room. When you’re ready, a local anaesthetic will be administered to numb the area.
A simple toenail podiatry surgery procedure should take about 20-30 minutes, and the local anaesthetic should wear off in about 2 hours.
You will be able to walk immediately after your nail podiatric surgery, but you should avoid driving. Your toe will be numb for some time so ask someone to accompany you home. After your anaesthetic wears off, you may feel some pain. You may take some Paracetamol if needed, but you should take it easy for the rest of the day.
Post-operative care for nail podiatric surgery
Your Podiatrist will discuss a post-surgery care plan that is customized for you. The most common tips will be:
- Apply an antiseptic cream and keep the area bandaged
- Schedule a follow up appointment in 1 weeks time to review the site.
- Be careful not to get your foot wet when showering or using the washroom
- Avoid working out, running, or walking fast
- Wear open-toe shoes or sandals during your recovery period
Once your foot has healed from the toenail podiatry surgery, you should be free from the pain and discomfort of ingrown toenails and can return to your regular schedule.
If you’re looking for podiatric surgery Australia, Avaana can help you find a podiatrist close to you.