Ingrown Toenail Treatment and Nail Surgery

What is an ingrown toenail?

Onychocryptosis (ingrown toenail) is a common form of nail disease. It is an often painful condition in which the nail grows so that it cuts into one or both sides of the nail bed. Ingrown nails occur most commonly in the big toe.

What are the causes?

  • Involuted (curved) nails
  • Genetics
  • Restrictive footwear
  • Onychophagia (picking of nails)
  • Trauma to the nail or nail bed

Why would I need to have nail surgery?

Some ingrown toenails can be recurrent, even with professional treatment. When a toenail continues to cause problems for the person, sometimes a simple procedure is required to cut away the part of the nail which is causing the ingrown nail to occur. Nail surgery is a quick and simple procedure conducted under a local anaesthetic to the toe. The offending nail is removed from the root and a chemical is used to ablate the nail bed so that part of the nail doesn’t grow back.

Is ingrown toenail surgery painful?

Our surgical technique for ingrown toenails is a minimally invasive procedure that requires no cutting of the skin and no stitches. This reduces the time it takes the toe to heal and minimises any postoperative pain.

Prior to surgery, we administer a local anaesthetic that numbs your entire toe for one-two hours, so there is no pain during or immediately after the procedure. If there is any discomfort once the anaesthetic wears off, it is usually well managed with paracetamol, rest and elevation of the foot.

Will I need any time off work?

Immediately after the procedure you should rest and keep your foot elevated for the remainder of the day. You will also need to wear an open-toe shoe for one to two weeks, and avoid tight-fitting footwear, socks or stockings.

Most people recover very quickly from ingrown toenail surgery and are able to return to work within a day.

Children should not participate in physical education, sport or swimming for two weeks after the procedure.
If you have a physically demanding or dirty occupation we suggest you arrange your surgery to coincide with some time off work.

Do you remove the entire toenail?

In most cases, we only need to remove one edge of the nail. Once the toe is healed the toenail simply looks slightly narrower, and it can be difficult to tell that there has been any surgical correction.

In more severe cases, where the nail is severely deformed and causing pain on both edges of the toe, we may recommend removing the entire toenail to achieve the best result However, this will be discussed in detail during your consultation with us

Can an ingrown toenail grow back after surgery?

Yes, an ingrown toenail may grow back after surgical treatment, but this is not a common occurrence. During your procedure, a chemical called phenol is applied to the nail bed to stop the edge of your nail from re-growing.

What are the advantages of ingrown toenail surgery?

Ingrown toenail surgery may be the most appropriate treatment option for chronic ingrown toenails that fail to respond to more conservative management. It should be considered that ingrown toenail surgery:

  • May not be suitable for people with conditions affecting the blood circulation in their feet
  • Will usually require a short period of post-surgical recovery and assessment
  • Will cause a minimal change to the cosmetic appearance of the toenail following recovery

Please Note:

It is recommended that a friend or family member brings you and takes you home from your nail surgery appointment as the administration of a local anaesthetic in your toe does redeem you unfit to drive and may affect your insurance.