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Outpatient Surgery For An Ingrown Toenail [Caution: Graphic Photos]

by Tyler Hurst » on May 03, 2011 19

After a lifetime of thinking I was really bad at cutting my toenails, I finally had a podiatrist remove an ingrown toenail on the inside of my left big toe. If you’re squeamish, you may want to skip the pictures in this post, but they’re really not all that graphic.

While I’m not a big fan of pain, it sure does make me feel alive.

Here’s what it looked like:

The doc prepped the ingrown toenail for removal by inserting a toothpick-like thing underneath the painful area. It felt not unlike removing a shingle from a roof, though I totally imagined that part because my toe was way numb after four shots of Lidocaine.

After prying up the offending piece, the lady doc took a small scalpel and cut right through the ingrown toenail part.

To make sure she got it all, she decided to cut more and then used pin-nose pliers to yank the little pieces out.

There wasn’t nearly as much blood as I expected, but I assume the Lidocaine and tourniquet had a lot to do with that. It was a weird feeling to watch my toe get cut into with any feeling whatsoever.

So THAT’S what’s been causing me such pain! What’s that, about a quarter inch of my toenail removed?

Next up is the chemical burn (WTF, man!) to kill the root so the nail doesn’t grow back again. I was expecting smoke and bubbling blood at this point, and my mind started to screw with me a bit as it tried to imagine just how this would feel had my toe not been numb. I fought it off, but the feeling came back later.

All done! Now I have a week of soaking it in warm water, vinegar and baby shampoo, then spraying it with anti-bacterial spray and smearing super-strong antibiotic cream on a bandaid and applying. Usual recovery time is 2-3 weeks, which is about half of what it used to be.

Before heading to the doc, I had tried to cut it out on my own (not a chance), cut a V in my toenail (doc says it doesn’t work) and even adjusting my running gait (no again). While ingrown toenails can be caused by toes slamming up against shoes (why many runners get them), mine were not and were likely genetic. My toenails seem to curve anyway.


  1. Dan

    May 03rd, 2011 at 10:42 am

    Ouch.. so glad the V has always worked for me!


  2. Michael

    May 03rd, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Tyler, how long ago was this? How are you doing now? Looks like it could be pretty painful for a while?


    • Tyler Hurst

      May 03rd, 2011 at 11:22 am

      Eight days ago. I wore Vibrams for the first time in a week yesterday.

      Typical recovery is 2-3 weeks.


  3. admin

    May 03rd, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Did the doctor and nurses think you were some kind of sicko for taking pictures of the surgery throughout? :)


    • Tyler Hurst

      May 03rd, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      Surprisingly not. She narrated the entire time, I almost wish I’d filmed it.

      Lady doc I went to gets a lot of triathletes and runners, so I bet she’s used to people being really curious about their injuries.


  4. Annie

    May 03rd, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    Mine are genetic too, I’ve had the surgery three times, I felt good about a week after. Pretty crazy stuff isn’t it? Glad you’re fixed now!


    • Tyler Hurst

      May 03rd, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      Let’s hope so. I bet I’ll need to get my right big toe taken care of eventually, but I’m not rushing into it.


  5. Chris Lee

    May 03rd, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Yeowch! Bet running is going to be a very different experience for you now. Very cool!


  6. Christine Skelly

    May 27th, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Always had ingrowns myself (though nothing like this), and read they’re a side effect of regular shoe wearing since it pushes your toes together.

    Seems to be going away thanks to converting to VFFs and barefoot a year ago and 2 months ago respectively.


  7. JakeH

    December 23rd, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    I have ingrown nails on both sides of both big toes. Went in for this “surgery” four times, and it always proved to be a temporary fix for me. The doctor suggested just removing those nails entirely, and now I just do this “surgery” myself twice a year. Snip down the side of the nail and then tear the last bit out with small pliers. Very little blood, not that painful, and instant relief once finished. I’ll often go out for a jog that same night.


    • Tyler Hurst

      December 26th, 2011 at 9:46 pm

      My nails curve at the ends, so I also have to do some upkeep every few months. Planning on having the procedure on both sides of both toes here soon.


    • ray cote

      July 16th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

      are you serious?? dude i did that once with very sterile tools like the dr used…..i got such an infection the whole toe nail had to be removed…wich is 50 times worse than what the dr would have done himself….you are one lucky person!!!


      • Tyler Hurst

        July 16th, 2012 at 1:47 pm

        Yes, I attempted everything but the cutting myself. Hurt like hell, bled a lot. Glad I didn’t infect myself!


  8. pensive

    January 11th, 2012 at 2:31 am

    I had both sides of both toes at the end of November. I took photos of a lot of it too. We runners are odd folk. ; )


    • Tyler Hurst

      January 11th, 2012 at 3:03 am

      It never occurred to me not to. I figured I would have wanted to see something like that.


  9. Cand

    April 24th, 2013 at 5:29 pm

    I had one fixed yesterday. After my initial hyperventilating scene, it all went well! I couldn’t watch it happening, but as soon as my toe was frozen and couldn’t feel anything it went by so quick and easy. After care seems like a pain in the ass but nothing compared to having to fix ingrowns time and time again. When the freezing wore off OMG it hurt. But ibuprofen is helping with that :)


  10. Jennifer

    June 10th, 2013 at 8:31 pm

    Very…very accurate. Just had the same procedure done today.


  11. Clarissa

    January 23rd, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    So after they put the chemicals on it and numbing wore off how bad did it hurt?


    • Tyler

      January 23rd, 2018 at 8:20 pm

      It hurt REALLY bad when I woke up the next day for about two hours, but was fairly pain free after that.


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