Taking steps to end pain caused by long second toe

01 August 2018

The extended summer heatwave has meant more and more women spend a lot of time in flip-flops or open-toed sandals.

But what if you don’t like your feet?

Despite the weather many women are keeping their feet under wraps because they don’t like the look of their toes says Consultant Podiatric Surgeon, Stuart Metcalfe.

And it appears that many women are not going to stand for it any longer as an increase in cosmetic foot surgery grows at an amazing pace!

“The main problem is the second toe,” explained Mr Metcalfe, who holds private foot clinics at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, Birmingham, West Midlands, “When the second toe is noticeably longer than the big toe it can make women feel a little self-conscious, particularly when wearing fashionable, open-toed footwear.

“I don’t know if more people have been exposing their feet more than ever this year, but there has definitely been a step up in the number of women wanting toe-shortening surgery. It is usually the second toe but there are occasions when other toes simply look out of alignment and they want what is considered a normal foot shape.

“In all honesty why shouldn’t people care how their feet look. It is not unusual to have cosmetic surgery on your ears, nose, chin or many other parts of your body so why not your feet? Women can spend hundreds of pounds on a pair of open-toes shoes so if they do have ‘toe issues’ why shouldn’t they get them sorted out?”

Here Mr Metcalfe answers some questions on toe shortening and what the procedure entails.

Besides the actual appearance of the foot, can an extended toe also cause pain?

Yes, in fact where a toe is too long what typically happens is that the toe buckles inside the shoe and this leads to the development of painful pressure lesions like corns and calluses.  

Is it usually just one toe that is out of alignment?

Most often it is the second toe which is too long although, occasionally, we see patients with other toes affected. 

Does the corresponding toe on the other foot usually need similar surgery?

Yes, the problem normally occurs in both feet. 

What does the surgeon do to reduce the size of the toe?

The procedure is normally very straight-forward.  A precise section of bone is removed from either side of the joint in the toe.  The length is carefully checked during the operation.  When the correct length is achieved the bone is fixed using a pin or more commonly nowadays a specialised implant.

How long does the procedure take?

The operation usually takes thirty minutes per toe.

When would a patient be expected to walk normally again?

If the toe is fixed using the specialised implant then patient are able to walk after two weeks although it is several weeks before everything is fully healed.

Is there any scarring?

Only a small scar on top of the toe which for most people is barely visible after six months.

Are there benefits to the surgery other than cosmetic?

This is not simply a cosmetic procedure as an excessively long toe often cause damage to the skin and nail where they are pressed against shoes. The procedure restores the length of the toe to normal and prevents this damage from occurring

Does surgery involve a stay in hospital?

Nowadays this procedure can be carried out under local anaesthetic or general anaesthetic with no need to stay in hospital. 

How quickly could I have a consultation, and how much would it cost? 

A: It depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted to see, but we pride ourselves on getting you fast access to diagnosis and you can often get a consultation within 24/48 hours. Initial consultation fees vary by consultant, but around £175 is a reasonable guide.

Q: If I need surgery, how quickly could I have it?

A: We have no waiting lists at Spire Parkway, but again it depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted, but as a guide, and subject to your pre-operation assessment, between one and two weeks.

Q: I don’t have health insurance, can I self-pay? 

A: Yes, you can. Our self-pay team can talk you through this and explain the finance options that are available, should you wish to explore them. Click here to submit an enquiry online.

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