The Horrifying Thing They Do to Fix an Ingrown Toenail

March 25, 2004
Prepare to be repulsed. Close your eyes, if you will, and consider that they are about to do to you the thing that I am about to describe. Please be forewarned, this is not for the faint of heart. Now I haven't had this done to me...yet. (Well actually, if you're reading this now -- and hey, you are!! -- then I really have had it done by now. Read more on in my main diary!), but I have done a lot of research on the procedure, and Mike even discussed it with his podiatrist a week or so ago (I listened in).

I added some pictures that I drew while Mike was asleep that I hope will help to explain the procedure for fixing an ingrown toenail. Due to the graphic nature of this procedure, some viewers may find my drawings somewhat disturbing. Please don't let your small children look at them without proper gownup supervision.

Step 1 - Anesthesia

Once a qualified podiatrist has determine that surgical treatment is the right option for your ingrown toenail, the first thing the doctor will do is anesthetize your toe. In lieu of plying you with a simple fifth of whiskey, the doctor will probably inject an anesthetic into your toe in the area where your toe joins to your foot. Some have remarked that the pain of administering the anesthetic in many cases far outweighs the pain of the actual procedure. Oh goody!

Step 2 - Remove Offending Portion of Toenail

After your toe is deadened you may want to get a good grip on your chair. Basically, the doctor is going to lift your toenail from the nail bed to free the nail from overgrown skin at the side of the nail. The doctor will then excise a sliver of nail down to the nail bed (the nail growing matrix). This will relieve the pressure on the tissues surrounding the nail bed.

Step 3 - Cauterize the Nail Matrix

The doctor may elect to cauterize the nail-growing matrix at the base of your toenail to prevent the troublesome section of nail from growing back in. To do this, the doctor will likely apply a solution of liquid phenol to the nail matrix with a Q-Tip™.

Step 4 - Bandage It Up

You can't got back to the office sporting a bloody stump at the end of your foot. People would hurl!

Step 5 - PostOp Care

It is important following such surgical treatment for ingrown nails to keep the treated toe clean and dry. You may be asked to apply antibotic ointments regularly while your toe heals. When you do begin wearing footwear again, be sure to wear loose-fitting footwear. If you can get away with wearing sandals at home and at work, do so. Don't wear any shoes as much as possible. I have become partial to the Ug boots recently as they pass reasonably for a pair of shoes in the office, and they are about as non-constraining as footwear can be.

©Copyright 2003, Michael R. Bray
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