Our feet bear the weight of our bodies on a daily basis, getting us from one place to another efficiently and painlessly. However, some people do experience a certain amount of discomfort when walking due to the length of their toes. Long second toes—the one next to your big toe—can affect how footwear feels and, ultimately, influence comfort levels during daily activities, such as walking or running. For those who want to change this and be comfortable standing on their feet, then toe shortening surgery may be a helpful option.
What is Toe Shortening?
Toe shortening is an elective procedure that straightens and shortens toes. Usually it is performed on the second and third toes, but it can be done on the others, as well. Toe shortening occurs at the joints in the toe, where bone is removed using a specialized cutting instrument. Once the bone is taken out, pins are put in place so the toe heals properly. A portion of the skin needs to be removed or restructured to accommodate the new toe length.
Toe shortening surgery is relatively quick, with each toe taking about half an hour to correct. The surgery can be done as an in-patient or out-patient procedure, depending on what the person wants.
Why Have Toe Shortening Surgery?
Our feet play a huge role in our daily lives, and if toe length affects comfort and causes pain, it can become a serious medical problem. People who experience pain in their feet because of their toes will opt for toe shortening surgery. Some people simply do not like the appearance of their feet, thinking that a longer second toe is unattractive and affects them wearing stylish sandals or heels. In this case, there is no pain or medical condition that needs to be addressed, the surgery is purely cosmetic.
What is the Recovery Time for Toe Shortening?
Toe shortening recovery time will vary with each patient depending on their health and activity level. On average, it takes about three months to fully recover from surgery; however, patients should be able to walk while bearing their full body weight after about four weeks. The first couple weeks, patients are encouraged to stay off their feet, keeping them iced and elevated to reduce swelling. A special shoe will be provided for patients to help them get around on their own, without the help of crutches, once they are at that point in the recovery process.
The Side Effects of Toe Shortening
As with any plastic surgery procedure, there are side effects of toe shortening that need to be considered before undergoing treatment. Toe shortening is a relatively safe procedure, but there are serious risks involved when performing foot surgery. Toe shortening side effects include infection, corns, nerve injury, loss of flexibility and potential chronic pain when walking. Also, since the foot is comprised of so many small bones, joints and tendons, even the slightest change to one toe can shift the weight to the other toes, causing bunions and balance issues. Since some of the side effects of toe shortening are pretty serious, surgeons strongly encourage those getting the surgery for cosmetic reasons to attend multiple consultations to make sure this is something they really want to do.
Toe Shortening Costs
Even though a toe is a tiny body part, toe shortening costs a lot of money. While the price will vary with each person depending on how many toes they have shortened, where they live and who their surgeon is, the average cost of toe shortening surgery is between $2,000 and $2,500 per toe. Most doctors do offer patient financing options to help with budgeting, so be sure to discuss this with your doctor to figure out exactly how you can cover the cost of toe shortening surgery.
Toe shortening may not be as mainstream as breast augmentations or tummy tucks, but it has grown in popularity in recent years, with more and more women requesting the procedure to help with pain or improve the look of their feet.