Ingrown toenails are a common condition that we see in the clinic where the sides of the nails (mostly your big toenails) grow into the flesh, causing damaged skin and sometimes open wounds that are prone to bacterial infections. They can cause a large amount of pain and discomfort if left untreated and do not discriminate between age and gender. Ingrown toenail surgery is often the best treatment for chronic ingrown toenails.
What is Ingrown Toenail Surgery?
Partial Nail Avulsion (PNA), more commonly known as ingrown toenail surgery, is an effective and more permanent treatment for ingrown toenails. When conservative methods aren’t working, we often recommend surgery, as it can be completed in the clinic room with your usual Podiatrist. It involves removal of the side of the nail that is causing issues under local anaesthetic, followed by killing the cells that promote nail growth. As with all podiatry treatments, we undertake PNAs in a sterile environment to minimise the risk of infection. Recovery time is typically 1-2 weeks but may take longer depending on a number of factors.
What to expect during ingrown toenail surgery
Once you and your podiatrist have agreed to proceed with a PNA, we book an hour-long surgery appointment. You will need to wear open-toed footwear, such as slides or thongs. Although you can drive home after the procedure, it may be beneficial to have someone take you to the appointment, as your toe will be numb for a few hours following the procedure. The procedure goes as follows:
We inject local anaesthetic into the toe to provide a pain-free procedure.
Removal of the section of the nail that is causing pain from the root of the nail with sterile instruments.
We then apply a chemical called phenol to the nail bed which prevents nail growth in that section.
Your podiatrist will then cleanse and dress the surgery site to promote healing and reduce the risk of infections. You will need to keep the dressing dry until the follow-up appointment.
What to expect after the surgery
You will need to keep the dressing on and dry until your next appointment. For the first week, you need to wear open-toed sandals, thongs, or slides. Typically you can resume exercise 2-3 weeks after ingrown toenail surgery and can expect to be fully healed after 6 weeks.
Are there any contraindications?
We may elect to proceed with alternative conservative treatment if you possess the following risk factors:
- Pregnancy (in the case of phenol use).
- Allergy to anaesthetics.
- Immunodeficiency or reduced blood flow/peripheral vascular disease
If you are suffering from persistent ingrown toenails and think that you would benefit from nail surgery feel free to book an appointment with us so we can help you get back to doing the things you love with no pain.