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How to Make Ingrown Toenail Surgery Less Painful

Updated on February 4, 2017
Dreamworker profile image

Dreamworker has spent years studying and dealing successfully with a number of health issues.

The thought of having painful ingrown toenail surgery drives people to do whatever they can to avoid it.

  • Some simply tolerate the ever-increasing pain.
  • Others continually see podiatrists to get them to cut their toenails back to get temporary relief.
  • Many resort to the use of home remedies.

The problem is that in pursuing these options, people who suffer from this problem often resort to self-treatment that can, and often does, make their situations worse than they would have been had they just gone to see a podiatrist in the first place.

I am not a doctor, but I have spent the last four years trying to evade this surgery due to my fear of the necessary shots. I had both heard and read that the shots are the worst part of the whole treatment.

During that time, I have done a great deal of research and have also learned quite a bit.

In this article, I'd like to share my experiences with you. I hope doing so will help you deal with your own ingrown toenails.

Ingrown toenail surgery does not always have to be as painful as it may seem.
Ingrown toenail surgery does not always have to be as painful as it may seem. | Source

The Beginning of the Problem

My Ingrown Toenail Adventure catalogs what happened to me when I first realized I had this issue.

  1. At first my two big toes were sore, but I didn’t understand why they felt as they did.
  2. Then I looked more closely and saw that the top corners of the nails were digging into the skin at the sides of both big toes.
  3. Not knowing what this could lead to, I simply began lifting the corners of the nails with an orange stick and filing them down.

This relieved the pain, but only temporarily.

Fortunately, I was smart enough to sterilize during the lifting and filing process.

Home Remedies 101

It seemed that the more I tried to treat the problem, the worse it became.

I began researching on the internet and actually tried some of the home remedies I found there such as

  • Lifting the nail corners and stuffing dental floss under them to keep the nail from growing into the skin
  • Cutting a “V” in the center of the nail with the hopes that when the “V” grew out, it would pull the sides of the nail towards the center of the toe, thus lifting them away from the skin
  • Buying a kit that had small, heavy plastic strips that you glued onto the top of the toe that pulled and lifted the nail. This one did as stated, but it also exposed the nail bed, hurt like blazes, and opened the toe to infection.

Finally, I realized that I need to see a podiatrist.

One Doctor Tells Me What I Want to Hear

If you read the above noted article, you saw what happened next.

For more than a year I had several different podiatrists work on my toes, but all insisted I was a candidate for toenail excision. All also told me that, yes, the shot would really hurt…a lot.

When I asked if they could knock me out, they said they couldn’t because insurance would not cover the costs and it would be too expensive for me to pay for it.

Furthermore, the more they worked on my toes, the more painful their efforts became.

Finally, I went to a doctor who told me that I could treat my nails myself simply by carefully soaking, lifting and cutting.

This sounded great, so this is what I did.

Doctor's opinions about how to treat ingrown toenails vary, but some simply tell patients what they think they want to hear and do not permanently resolve their issues.
Doctor's opinions about how to treat ingrown toenails vary, but some simply tell patients what they think they want to hear and do not permanently resolve their issues. | Source

The Resulting Dilemma

At first, this worked really well for me, but as time went on it seemed that I was lifting, filing and cutting increasing amounts of nail.

Finally, I had reached the quick of the nails on both feet and knew I could go no further.

In addition, my toes were really starting to hurt.

Now, I had a real dilemma. I was going to have to have toenail excision.

Research Helps

Before I “jumped in”, I decided it would be a good idea to do some research so that I could analyze the situation.

I began watching YouTube videos that people who had the surgery posted and began to see a pattern.

Some people really suffered, while others seemed to do pretty well.

Finally, it donned on me that the people who suffered the most were the ones who had let their problem go too far.

Their toes were already swollen, hot, red and infected by the time they sought professional help, so of course the shots would be excruciating.

Furthermore, they took nothing ahead of time to protect them from pain.

I also noticed that some of the doctors were much better at doing this type of surgery than others and soon realized that employing someone with good credentials and lots of experience would really matter.

The Final Remedy

This led me to a doctor who met my requirements.

It also made me realize that if I took a pain pill ahead of time, the shot would be much less likely to hurt so much.

Since I had been very careful about avoiding infection, I felt I had a good chance of getting through the surgery OK.

I was right.

Although the doctor did not use any type of pre-numbing medication, he did use an extremely small needle.

He gave me three shots in each foot. Each one lasted about 15 seconds…unlike the ones I saw on YouTube that went on for as long as a minute.

  1. The first one did hurt, but it was nowhere near as bad as I thought it would be, and it was over quickly.
  2. The second also did not last long, and it hurt very little.
  3. He let those two shots numb my toes before he gave me the third one, and because of this, I didn’t feel the third one at all.

The doc removed a small strip of nail from each side of each big toe in less than 5 minutes, sterilized and wrapped the toes and that was it!

I felt absolutely nothing while he was working.

Once the procedure is over, taking good care of your feet will be important.
Once the procedure is over, taking good care of your feet will be important. | Source

After Care

Post-op care consists of putting some peroxide on the toes each day and covering each with a Band Aid. I’m to go back in a week to make sure there’s no infection.

That’s it!

When the shots wore off, there was almost no pain at all, and there still has been very little even after three days. I see no signs of infection.

Save Yourself Some Problems

My best advice to anybody who is in the early stages of this problem is to

  • find a well qualified and experienced podiatrist,
  • protect your toes against infection,
  • pop a pain pill and
  • then have the procedure done on your ingrown toenails before they worsen.

The longer you wait, the worse your problem will become and the more painful the procedure will be.

I have horribly low pain tolerance, so don’t think I give this advice lightly.

Once my toes heal up, it is unlikely that I will have to deal with this issue again, but if I do I will know what to do and won't fear doing it.

You can reduce the pain of ingrown toenail surgery by following the above advice. It is based on personal experience, and it works!

Good luck!

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© 2017 Dreamworker


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    • Dreamworker profile image

      Dreamworker 6 months ago

      Coffeequeen: Glad to be of service. I just had both of mine done a few days ago, and honestly, I am sorry I didn't do this years ago. What a relief it was to finally realize that all of the horror stories you hear do not necessarily apply to your own situation. Good luck!

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 6 months ago from Norfolk, England

      This has been most helpful, and lots of good advice here. I'm having problems with one of my toes, so reading this has been a big help, thankyou.