Suffering from a severely painful toenail that is constantly irritated with shoes and impossible to cut?  Surgical removal is most likely the best option.  Toenail deformities can be the result of trauma to the nail plate which can occur from dropping something on your toe, or simply through years of irritation of the nail plate on a shoe.  Nail fungus can also be the cause of a deformed toenail, so it is imperative to first have the nail tested for fungus before making any decisions to permanently remove the toenail.

Many patients ask if it is possible to temporarily remove the toenail and let it grow back.  While this option may seem possible, if the nail has sustained permanent damage through trauma, then it will grow back with the same deformity.

The best solution in cases of severely deformed toenails is permanent removal of the nail plate by a procedure known as a chemical matrixectomy. The toe is anesthetized in the office and the nail plate is removed.  A chemical called phenol is placed on the cells that form the toenail creating a burn which prevents the nail from growing back.  Recovery is typically two weeks of wearing a band aid with antibiotic ointment.  Most people return to work the next day and runners can usually begin running within two days. 

This is what a toe will look like after removal of the nail:

 


 

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