Ingrown toenails are fairly common, and if they are mild, they can often be treated with home remedies such as placing gauze under the nail to lift it or soaking your toe in mineral salts. Occasionally, an ingrown toenail becomes infected, or it wedges deeply into the skin. You might also be bothered with frequent ingrown toenails that cause scarring and damage to your toe or nail bed. In these cases, surgery might be necessary for complete treatment and pain relief. This is some information about having surgery for an ingrown nail.
Your Toe Is Numbed With Local Anesthesia
Toenail removal surgery is done in your podiatrist's office as an outpatient procedure and it only requires a local anesthetic, which is given by injection to your toe. The toe is also bathed with an antiseptic solution to reduce the risk of infection during the procedure. The podiatrist may also apply a tourniquet to your toe to slow down blood flow and reduce bleeding. Once your toe is numb and prepped, the nail removal procedure can begin.
The Nail Is Partially Or Fully Removed
The podiatrist uses surgical instruments to clip the nail and pull it from the nail bed. It might only be necessary to remove the side of the nail that's near the affected skin. In that case, a wedge of the nail is clipped away from the rest of the nail and pulled out. It's also possible, your podiatrist will remove the entire toenail, which is loosened from the nail bed and pulled out of your toe.
The Nail Matrix Might Be Destroyed
Your toenail grows out of the matrix at the bottom of the nail area. If the matrix is left intact, your toenail will eventually grow back once it's removed. Your podiatrist might destroy a portion of the matrix where the wedge of the nail was removed in order to prevent the regrowth of nail close to the skin of your toe. If your entire nail is removed, your podiatrist may decide to remove the entire matrix so your nail will never grow back. This might be done if you have frequent ingrown nails that have caused so much scarring and damage that it's difficult for the nail to grow in properly. The nail matrix can be chemically destroyed, burned out with a laser or removed surgically.
Recovering from ingrown toenail surgery will take several days although you'll probably be able to walk right after the procedure. You'll need to keep your foot elevated and soak it daily while it heals. Pain shouldn't be too much of a problem, but you'll want to wear roomy shoes or sandals to keep pressure off your toe. For more information, contact a local podiatrist like Greenberg Paul.