An ingrowing toenail ranges in severity from a moderately curved nail which presses into the fold of flesh at the side of the toe, to a nail which has grown forward and pierced the flesh, causing scar tissue to build up. In this case, infection often occurs.
Depending on the severity of the condition, there are three surgical treatment options:
- removal of the toenail (also called total nail avulsion)
- wedge excision
- Zadek’s procedure
These procedures are quick and simple, and are carried out as day surgery so you’ll be able to go home on the same day, but you may not be able to drive yourself. You’ll be given a local anaesthetic, so you'll be awake but you won’t be able to feel any pain in the area of the operation.
Simple Removal of the Toenail
This treatment is usually performed if the nail is infected. The nail usually grows back again, and there’s a 50:50 chance of the nail causing further problems again later.
This is the removal of a part of the toenail. Sometimes the surgery also includes treatment of some of the nail root, by cutting out (excision) or by applying a chemical called phenol to prevent regrowth of the nail. The wedge excision procedure results in a slightly thinner nail, and some patients will experience further problems with infection and regrowth of the nail.
This procedure is usually recommended for recurrent ingrowing toenails, and involves removing the toenail and the nail root (or part of it). Because the nail root contains the cells from which the nail grows, removing the root should prevent regrowth of the nail. Zadek's procedure cannot usually be carried out when there is infection present.
You may have some pain or discomfort after the operation which we’ll help you manage with painkillers. We’ll tell you how to care for your wound and, if you’ve had non-dissolvable stitches, we’ll make an appointment for you to have them removed. You may need to take some time off work.
Having surgery for an ingrowing toenail means that patients should be relieved of any long-term pain associated with the condition.
Any surgery carries some risks. Specific risks associated with surgery for an ingrowing toenail include; bleeding from the site of the operation, wound infection, and recurrence of the ingrowing toenail.
There are no alternatives.