Nail Surgery

What is nail surgery?

Nail surgery is a procedure carried out to remove part, or all of a nail. Problem nails that we commonly treat are infected, ingrowing toenails, and curved or distorted/ thick nails that are causing pain. Phenol is used to stop regrowth of the nail.

What are the benefits of having nail surgery?

Permanent removal of part or the entire nail often cures the problem, although there is a small risk of regrowth. This procedure is known as “Phenol Matricectomy” and has a success rate of 95% or higher, in preventing regrowth of the nail.

What will happen when I have nail surgery?

  • You will be awake during the procedure
  • Local anaesthetic is injected in the toe to stop you feeling pain. A tourniquet is then put onto the toe to reduce bleeding. If you have sickle cell anaemia, use of tourniquet is not recommended – please discuss with your podiatrist
  • The piece of nail causing the problem is then removed, and phenol applied to stop the nail from growing back
  • The tourniquet is taken off, and a dressing is put on to cover the toe
  • You will be given advice about how to look after your toe, and a follow-up appointment will be booked before you leave

What does it feel like to have nail surgery?

Once the toe has been anaesthetised (numbed), you will be able to move the toe, but will not feel any pain. There is some discomfort when injecting the anaesthetic, but this only lasts a couple of minutes. The local anaesthetic usually wears off in 2-4 hours.

What would my toe look like afterwards?

Below is an example of a before and after picture for an infected ingrowing toenail. The result of your procedure will depend on your particular toenail problem, and the exact procedure.


Will nail surgery affect work or school?

  • If you have an active job, you may need to take a few days off work to rest the affected toes
  • We recommend that you wear open toe shoes, until the first redressing appointment. Please be aware that these may not comply with Work Health and Safety requirements
  • We recommend that school children do not go back to school until after the first appointment where the toe is dressed (two days)
  • Surgery can be arranged to avoid clashes with other commitments, such as exams and holidays
  • You may bring a relative/friend/carer with you for support; however, this is not essential unless you are under 16 years old.