Does Ingrown Toenail Surgery Hurt?

by | Jan 2, 2023

Living with an ingrown toenail is almost impossible, as it makes your feet uncomfortable since it results in swelling, infection, or toe pain. This problem is common with the big toe and happens when the nail can’t fit well in the side groove because of a damaged nail edge.

But what causes ingrown toenails, what can be done to help it, and does toenail surgery hurt?

What Causes Ingrown Toenails?

Various reasons can make your feet develop ingrown toenails, which can include:

Trimming Nails Too Short or in a Curve

When you cut your toenails too short, expect to feel some pain, and it also affects the skin around the toe. This will affect how the nail grows afterward as it penetrates the skin, which can result in infection or swelling. It’s best to cut your toenails straight across and not in a curved manner.

Wearing Tight Shoes

Another reason for such a problem is wearing small or tight-fitting shoes that cause foot friction as you walk. The tight shoes will cause commotion between your nails and the skin, affecting how the nail fits in the groove. Also, wearing tight shoes with socks can never save you from ingrown toenails. Instead, the socks will make the shoes tighter, affecting you further.


Trauma to the foot in general is never a picnic. When the trauma is focused on your toes and toenails, it can lead to ingrown toenails. Some activities you love to engage in also put excess pressure on your feet, like running or playing football, leading to this problem.

Inherited Genes

Some people also have naturally curved nails, which can lead to ingrown toenails. These genes can be passed from one person to the next in the family.

What Causes an Ingrown Toenail to Hurt?

The main reason your ingrown toenails hurt is that their border grows into the skin. Such can make the toe swell or lead to an infection that causes pus to fill up around the area. The pain can make it difficult to walk or stand, affecting your daily routine.

What Can I Expect from Ingrown Toenail Surgery?

Once our podiatrists have evaluated your ingrown toenail, you should expect to undergo painless toe surgery within the shortest time possible. Usually, our team can perform the necessary procedure right then in our office. However, the ingrown toenail can present itself in different stages that require different interventions.

When it’s slightly inflamed, you don’t have to undergo surgery but can soak the feet in warm water, and the problem disappears. However, the ingrown toenail can become worse and more persistent, requiring our podiatrists’ intervention.

The surgical procedure involves the removal of a small part of the nail’s side to remove the nail bed below. This is usually painful, and our doctors give the toe a local anesthetic shot to help you bear the procedure.

The good thing about this procedure is that it doesn’t take time; it requires only ten minutes, and everything is done.

Our podiatrists will decide with you on which methods to use during the operation.

  • Remove the whole toenail (nail avulsion).
  • Remove part of the toenail that’s growing into the skin and where the toenail grows from (wedge excision).
  • Nail bed ablation- Cut the whole toenail or part of it and put phenol on that area. Alternatively, the doctors can perform electrocautery, where electric heat helps remove the dead tissues.
  • Our podiatrists can also cut the whole toenail and remove the tissues from the area where your toenails grow (Zadek’s procedure), but this is only in extreme situations.

After the procedure, our podiatrists will dress your wound, and you can go home to nurse the toe. Note that the whole surgery doesn’t involve any kind of pain or discomfort. If any, it can’t match the level of pain the ingrown toenail caused you.

After Ingrown Toenail Surgery Care

When the surgery is over, it’s your turn to take care of your toenail. You may experience some swelling and aches on the operated area for some time before the toe pain disappears. For any pain that you might be having, take some over-the-counter painkillers which should help.

Usually, the discomfort should disappear after 24 hours, but there are things you might do that trigger it back. For example, exercising, wearing shoes, or stubbing the area before healing.

What to do After Surgery

  • It’s advisable to avoid doing intense exercise or sports for some days as the toe heals.
  • Also, try your best not to stub or injure the operated toe until it heals.
  • Most importantly, wear free-fit shoes that will not injure the toe while going to work or school the next day. If possible, you can wear sandals or open shoes whenever you have to get out of the house.
  • Don’t forget to wear a bandage with antibiotic ointment when going outdoors to prevent infections. But when back home, remove the bandage and allow your toe to get fresh air for about 10 to 30 minutes. To remove the bandage from your toe without hurting your feet, soak it in warm water. The water will help you stop the bandage from sticking to the wound.
  • Keep the wound clean and as dry as possible to avoid further complications.
  • Also, let your foot rest on a raised surface above your heart’s level to reduce swelling.
Bandaged big toe after ingrown toenail surgery

How Long Will I Take After the Surgery to Resume My Normal Life?

This mostly depends on how your body responds after the surgery. But most people return to their normal lives the next day. Some even wear shoes to work without any challenges. Before returning to your normal life, it’s good to practice walking to see how it feels. Also, follow the doctor’s instructions to avoid complications. However, full healing in the surgical area takes time, depending on your general well-being.

Who Can Undergo Ingrown Toenail Surgery?

Anyone with serious ingrown toenail complications can undergo surgery. However, there are special cases that our doctors will assess before advising you on the best solution for the problem.

Are there Complications that Can Happen Because of the Surgery?

Since we have professionals handling your toenail, don’t expect any major complications after the surgery. You may only experience some bleeding, which stops after some time. The rest of the complications can happen if you fail to follow the post-surgery instructions from the doctor.

So, Does Ingrown Toenail Surgery Hurt?

No. You will not feel pain when undergoing the procedure, as our podiatrists inject the toe with a local anesthetic that numbs the area. Furthermore, the doctors prepare will walk you through the procedure and answer any questions you might have. Take heart, while the procedure can sound scary, the truth is that it is a very simple procedure. Our doctors have years of experience in doing ingrown toenail surgery, so they know exactly what they are doing and the best way to help you.

Book Your Ingrown Toenail Surgery Appointment

If you can’t have peace because of an ingrown toenail, we are here to help relieve the pain. We have qualified podiatrists who will take you through the painless procedure quickly. Additionally, we will advise you on post-surgery care and the best way to prevent the problem from recurring. Contact us for your appointment and let the professional team work on your feet with love.