Is Ingrown Toenail Removal Surgery Painful? Ask a Concord NC Foot Surgeon

August 8, 2017

A toenail is said to be ingrown when the nail grows in to the skin of the toe. In most cases, ingrown toenails affect the big toe. Ingrown toenails can be painful, especially when they get infected. An infected toenail sometimes fills with puss and is often slightly swollen and red. However, ingrown toenails are easily treated by a podiatrist.

Ingrown Toenail Removal Surgery

Ingrown toenail removal, often requires a minor surgical procedure. Oral Antibiotics are usually not needed.

At the beginning of the procedure, the podiatrist or other specialist will numb the patient’s toe. However, before the numbness sets in, the patient may feel a slight sting or burn from the numbing medication injected into the toe. This discomfort lasts about 10 seconds and fades away as the toe numbs.

Then, the podiatrist will cut out the bit of the nail that’s growing into the skin. In most cases, only a small portion of the nail will need to be removed. In rare cases when the infection is severe, the entire nail will be removed. If the infection is not severe, the doctor can destroy the margin of the ingrown  nail root. This will prevent the nail from becoming ingrown in the future without significantly altering the appearance of the nail. The procedure takes less than 5 minutes once the toe is numb.

Aftercare Instructions

Typical recoveries have limited to no discomfort and usually alleviate ingrown nail discomfort within 24 hours. After surgery we ask patients to apply. The following is a list of tips for healing your toe and preventing further discomfort from an ingrown toenail:

  • Soak your feet in warm soapy or epsom salt water once daily  . Keep them submerged for about 5-7 minutes during each soak. Sooaking can be avoided by using absorbent dressings such as PolyMem.
  • Wear sandals or other comfortable shoes that don’t press on your toes.
  • Wear a bandage with antibiotic ointment on your toe when you are out and about. At home, remove the bandage and air out the wound for 15-30 minutes when convenient.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if your toe feels sore. Severe pain is rare. If OTC medications are not effective, consult a physician.

Ingrown toenails are a fairly common problem usually caused by clipping the toenails too short or wearing  improperly fitting or confining shoes that rub against the nail. However, the minor surgery to remove an ingrown toenail is mostly painless, and if you follow the doctor’s aftercare instructions, your toe should heal with little discomfort. Most patients resume normal activity without restrictions within a few days.

If you believe you have an ingrown toenail, contact our podiatry office. Our Concord podiatrist can answer any questions you have about ingrown toenails and ingrown toenail removal surgery. Most ingrown nails can be seen and treated within 24-48 hours.

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