What are surgical options for ingrown toenails?

Christopher Chiodo, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Ingrown toenails can become chronic, occurring over and over again. If so, your doctor may decide to remove the part of the nail that's been causing the problem. This office procedure can be done with chemicals rather than with a scalpel, so you can avoid a trip to the operating room. Even with treatment, this condition can cause permanent changes to the nail bed.
Hillary B. Brenner, DPM
Podiatric Medicine
If an ingrown toenail doesn't improve within a few days or gets worse (therefore increased pain, redness, swelling, drainage of pus and odor) a visit to the podiatrist is recommended. The podiatrist can prescribe an oral antibiotic (which is given when redness extends beyond the base of the toe). It is important to know that the offending nail border needs to be removed in order to cure the ingrown toenail. Giving antibiotics alone will not solve the problem. A slant back procedure can be performed (which is a procedure that removes the portion of the toenail that is piercing the skin) or part/all of the toenail is removed. If after several treatments of not successfully removing the ingrown toenail the doctor can perform a phenol and chemical matrixectomy. This procedure involves numbing the toe and removing the problematic nail border and applying phenol and alcohol to the nail root therefore preventing regrowth of the toenail. This is a permanent nail procedure and should only be performed after several treatments to trim the ingrown toenail where not successful. It is very important to follow up with the doctor several times after a ingrown toenail procedure so that the doctor can keep retraining the nail to grow back straight.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.