Does Ingrown Toenail Surgery Hurt?

Apr 5, 2019

After so many years of caring for people’s feet, we’re no longer surprised at how long it takes some people to book an appointment. There are folks out there who will get almost to the point where they feel like their feet are about to fall off before they’ll see a doctor!

When we ask why, we often get these kinds of responses:

  • I was worried that I’d have to get surgery
  • I’m afraid that treatment is going to hurt
  • What if the cure is worse than the disease?

Well, guess what? When it comes to ingrown toenails, you don’t have to worry about such things.

That’s because ingrown toenail surgery does not hurt. The worst part of the entire process, by far, is the shot—and even that’s a pretty mild discomfort for a very short period of time.

In fact, you’ll start feeling a ton better right away.


Where the Pain of an Ingrown Toenail Actually Comes From

Ingrown toenails have a well-deserved reputation when it comes to discomfort.

In short, the pain can be excruciating. In some cases, saying “my toe is killing me” seems like barely an exaggeration! Even lightly bumping your toe against the inside of your shoe could cause major distress.

Not all ingrown toenails hurt quite this much, of course. But they’re definitely uncomfortable. And if you don’t treat your ingrown toenail, it might even become infected.

The mechanism of all this pain? It’s pretty straightforward. You have a border or corner of a nail that’s growing into your skin. Simple as that.

And you know something? All it really takes to stop the pain (or at the very least decrease it substantially) is to remove the offending nail border.

This is in sharp contrast to more “major” surgeries, where you might be dealing with substantial discomfort and swelling at the surgical site for a few days or weeks.

That’s absolutely not the case after an ingrown toenail surgery. The discomfort subsides extremely quickly.

Okay, But What About the Ingrown Toenail Surgery Itself?

Again, we repeat: Ingrown toenail surgery does not hurt. In fact, we’d describe the entire process as pretty painless—and we’re not just talking about physical sensations, either. It’s also simple, convenient, and basically hassle free.

Let’s walk you through what we mean.

To start, we use a fast-acting local anesthetic on the toe. How fast, you say? About 60 seconds, give or take, for the numbing process to work its way through the toe, and then maybe a 5 minute rest to relax and be sure the medication has taken full effect.

The shot of medication is actually the “worst” part of the whole experience. There’s a mild burning sensation for less than a minute, but almost everyone tolerates this very well.

After your toe is good and numb, we’ll put up a drape (if you’d rather not watch) and get to the business of removing that toenail.

The procedure itself usually takes less than 10 minutes. We’ll loosen the corners of the nail, then clip back and remove the ingrown edge or border. If you’ve also elected to have us remove the nail matrix (which stops the ingrown portion of the nail from growing back in), we’ll do that as well.

Last but not least, we’ll dress the wound using gel, a couple pieces of gauze, and a bandage—you even get to pick the color yourself.

It goes without saying that you should feel no discomfort at all during this entire process.

How About Aftercare?

Now, there will be some mild swelling and maybe some aches at the surgical site during the healing process.

We’ll send you home with a post-op kit with extra wound dressing, wash, gauze and bandages, and you should do your best to avoid stubbing or injuring your toe as it heals. We may also recommend you avoid swimming or vigorous athletic exercise for some period of time after the ingrown toenail surgery.

That said, when you compare it against the pain of living with an ingrown toenail, it is no contest at all.

By the time your anesthetic wears off and feeling returns to your toe, there’ll be no more nail digging into the skin, and your symptoms will be a lot better than before you came in.

In fact, most people are able to wear normal shoes and return to normal activities (work, school, etc.) the very next day. It’s about as close to “walk in, walk out” as it gets for any kind of surgical procedure.

In Other Words, to Recap …

Getting ingrown toenail surgery is really a no-brainer, which is why we recommend it in any situation where symptoms persist beyond just two days.

Your fortunes begin to change dramatically and permanently pretty much from the minute you walk in the door:

  • Your ingrown toenail is causing you pain—possibly extreme pain—right now.
  • Within a few minutes of seeing us, you’ll get a shot of local anesthetic that will totally numb the toe, so you don’t feel any pain.
  • The entire ingrown toenail surgery is completely painless due to the effects of the anesthetic.
  • By the time the anesthetic wears off, your pain level will be significantly reduced from where it was before the procedure.
  • Downtime is extremely minimal for almost all patients. And even if there a few things you can’t do while the toe heals, it’s likely you weren’t able to do them before anyway due to the pain.

So if you want a quick, simple, and painless solution to your painful ingrown toenail, look no further! The team at Heartland Foot & Ankle is here to help.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lockwood, give us a call at (309) 661-9975. You can also take advantage of our handy request form online.

10 Heartland Drive Suite B
Bloomington, IL 61704

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