Surgery for an ingrown toenail (or matricectomy)
Last update: 1 November 2019
Surgery for an ingrown toenail (or matricectomy)
What exactly is an ingrown toenail?
An ingrown nail (or onychocryptosis) can occur when a section of your nail penetrates the skin of the toe. This phenomenon mainly affects the big toe.
What types of people are more at risk?
Some people are more likely to suffer from ingrown toenails. These individuals may benefit from ingrown nail surgery to prevent their condition from deteriorating.
Those most at risk include:
- Diabetics: they must consult a podiatrist as soon as the first symptoms appear in order to prevent their condition from deteriorating. In the most extreme cases, an ingrown toenail can cause bone infection.
- Seniors: especially those with thick or curved nails. Their toenail deformation has a tendency to increase and their skin becomes more fragile with age.
- Adolescents: as they are more active and experience major hormonal changes, adolescents’ feet sweat more. This excess humidity makes their skin more fragile to any impact in the toe area or improper nail trimming.
Patient expectations following ingrown toenail surgery
The podiatrist must properly grasp the patient’s expectations regarding the upcoming procedure. It is also important to understand that surgery will not always restore all the original aestheticism to the toenail, but that our procedure is as aesthetic as possible.
When should a patient elect to have ingrown toenail surgery?
If you can’t put your shoes on, walk or play sports, you should elect to have surgery.
What’s the best way to select a podiatrist for an ingrown toenail?
Personalized surgical treatment:
Human surgical treatment:
It is important to be supported by a professional and welcoming team. The ties that you form with your podiatrist must be strong and you must have confidence in them. Mutual respect is of primary importance. Your podiatrist must display compassion and monitor your progress before, during and following your ingrown toenail surgery.
Your PiedRéseau clinics offer the following advantages:
- Easy access to a clinic near you
- Quick contact with a podiatrist
- Rapid intervention in the event of any complication
- Clear answers to your post-surgery questions
There’s always a PiedRéseau clinic easily accessible throughout Québec.
How do we evaluate whether a patient requires ingrown toenail surgery?
L’histoire du patient est très importante
This is used to assess whether you are a candidate for surgery. During this portion of the examination, the podiatrist takes several things into consideration:
- Your surgery history
- Your health records
- Your medication
- Your allergies
In addition, a vascular assessment of your feet will be conducted to ensure optimal healing.
An X-ray may be required to verify whether the bone under the nail has been indirectly damaged due to your condition.
Conservative treatment methods
Before beginning surgery for an ingrown toenail, it is very important to identify what you have already tried and what we can try together. For example:
- Traditional toenail trimming performed by a podiatrist
- Specialized nail trimming
- Foot baths with massage to release the nail
- Application of a nail strip to straighten some nails
- Surgeries during hospital visits
However, sometimes the situation has advanced so much that it becomes impossible to soothe the condition with conservative treatment methods. This is when matricectomy becomes the only solution to the problem.
Matricectomy comes with several advantages:
Choosing PiedRéseau comes with the following advantages:
- Proper follow-up
- Increased availability
The podiatrist takes into account the patient’s medical history to determine the circumstances that caused the ingrown toenail. This may be part of a chronic problem. Indeed, some pathologies cause toenails to become deformed or thicken over time.
Ingrown toenail surgery (partial matricectomy)
Ingrown toenail surgery in a podiatry clinic is minimally invasive. It allows you to effectively and definitively eliminate the pain while preserving the aesthetic appearance of your toes. The operation is performed under local anaesthesia. This ensures your toe will have little or no pain following surgery.
At the clinic
The operation can be performed with or without a tourniquet.
- Anaesthesia of your toe (from 1 to 6 hours, depending on each case)
- Cleansing and disinfecting of your toe
- Gentle release of the nail with a spatula
- Removal of part of the nail (usually 2 to 5 mm)
- Removal of infected area with phenol solution
- Rinsing the area with saline or alcohol solution
- Application of antibiotic cream, gauze and dressing
Keep your dressing dry for 24 to 48 hours. It is normal to feel tingling and tenderness following the operation, after the anaesthetic stops working.
Chronological steps of ingrown toenail surgery
The day of surgery
If recommended, you must have taken your medication one hour prior to ingrown nail surgery.
Follow-up visits and home care
Each procedure requires special care at home. Your podiatrist will clearly explain what you should do at home. Normally, you will be given a small checklist notebook for the home. And a follow-up appointment with your podiatrist will be conducted within 7 to 14 days.
It is recommended that you don’t wet your foot within the first few hours following surgery.
How long does it take to heal from ingrown toenail surgery?
When can I recommence my daily activities?
Follow your instructions to the letter!
It is very important that you follow the pre-surgery and post-surgery instructions to the letter. Your actions following surgery will have a direct impact on your recovery and the success of the procedure.
The disadvantages of ingrown toenail surgery at your podiatrist’s
They last a short time and are much less than the limitations caused by an ingrown toenail in the long term:
- You must disinfect the wound for a 2 to 3 week period.
- Some shoes can cause pressure and sensitivity in your toe during the healing process.
- You cannot play sports the first week following the operation. Sports activities should then be limited until complete recovery. Practising sports can slow the healing of your foot.
In short, these are but small inconveniences compared to an ingrown toenail.