Ingrown toenail surgery—is it right for you? - 1

Ingrown toenail surgery—is it right for you?

What does ingrown toenail surgery involve?

Surgery to address an ingrown toenail (onychocryptosis) involves removing the bothersome nail and applying a chemical to prevent the nail from growing back.

In some instances it may be necessary or most beneficial to remove a small section of nail at one or both sides, but on the odd occasion the entire nail (total nail avulsion) will be removed.

It is a quick and simple procedure than is essentially pain free as it is performed with an injection of local anaesthetic.

Following surgery the toe is dressed and generally speaking there is little, if any, pain or discomfort. You may expect some throbbing that night or discomfort but this is most often managed well with paracetamol.

When is toenail surgery the best option?

Ingrown toenail surgery should not be considered first-line treatment for an ingrown toenail. It can be considered when:

  • Other non-surgical methods have been exhausted
  • The nail is involuted or curved
  • Ingrown toenail is problematic, painful or recurring
  • You understand the implications and potential complication of surgery
  • You have discussed any concerns with your podiatrist

What are the advantages of clinic-based toenail surgery?

  • No time in hospital
  • No Sutures / stitches required – all completed under the nail plate
  • No more recurrent ingrown toenails
  • Pain free
  • Minimal time off work
  • Reduced episodes of infection and lesions (weeping, bleeding)
  • In the majority of cases, ingrown toenail surgery is very successful

Dr Brenden Brown, podiatrist and founder of A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care, says, “Nail surgeries are not new for podiatrists; we perform them on a regular basis. It is part of our training at University so we are well versed in this surgery. It is carried out in our clinic and, due to our high level of training, is a fairly simple procedure.

“I often describe this surgery as ‘relatively pain free’. It is wrong to say any surgical procedure is ‘completely pain free’ but as procedures go our patients report very little, if any, pain.  In fact, patients are frequently surprised at just how pain free it actually is!

“This procedure can certainly be of benefit and is recommended for patients who have a history of infection or recurrent ingrown toenails. It’s also very helpful for patients with involuted or very curved nails and toenails with areas that seem to catch the skin on the side of the nail.

“Patients often suffer from an ingrown toenail for many years with little idea where to go to for help.

“The days of painful surgeries with patients regularly experience nail re-growth are gone. It’s also important to remember that what you see on YouTube and other social media sites is often the ‘most horrible’ and ‘most atrocious’. If it wasn’t so gruesome you probably wouldn’t have been so motivated to watch and it likely would have got the “views” it did!

Related articles:

5 hacks to keep ingrown toenails at bay


A Step Ahead Foot + Ankle Care is one of Sydney’s leading foot and ankle clinics. Principal podiatrist and founder of A Step Ahead Dr Brenden Brown (AKA Dr Foot) has been taking care of people’s feet for more than 20 years.

With a background in sports medicine and having served as a former president of the Australasian Podiatry Council, Brenden is a wealth of information when it comes to foot and ankle care.

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