Surgical Nail Removal

Stubborn as the Dickens

Toenail fungus is an untenable situation that leads to discomfort, disfigurement, and other more serious conditions. But toenail fungal infections are stubborn as the dickens and resist treatment. Sometimes, the only way you can get rid of a recurrent or severe fungal nail infection is by having your nail removed. Your doctor may choose to remove the entire nail (avulsion), or only a part of the nail (debridement).

Surgical nail removal is done in a clinic or in the office of your health professional. You'll be given an injection in the toe to prevent pain. Your doctor will then loosen the skin surrounding the nail folds, separating the nail from your skin with a tool that is inserted between the nail and the flesh beneath. If only a part of the nail is affected, only the affected part of the nail will be removed.

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At this point there is the option of having the nail matrix destroyed. This is done by applying a topical chemical to the cuticle area after the nail plate has been removed.

This is an effective method of insuring that the fungus can never return since a matrixectomy is a permanent removal of the nail. Once this procedure is done, the nail will never grow back.

After your surgery, an antibiotic ointment will be applied to your skin. Your health professional will then dress the wound with gauze and tape.

For the next few weeks you will need to clean and dry the wound each day, and apply a fresh layer of antibiotic ointment over the area. It takes three weeks for the wound to heal. Toenails take a year to a year and a half to grow back.

This type of surgery is done when large portions of the nail are diseased or damaged or if you are in a great deal of pain. It is not often necessary to remove the entire nail and partial removal often suffices to rid the area of fungus.

Some doctors prefer to give further treatment as a precaution. Such treatment may consist of applying an antifungal cream to the infected area, or antifungal medication that is taken by mouth.

Risks and complications of this procedure include pain, infection, and abnormal nail regrowth.  

One of the benefits of nail removal is that this method makes it possible to give direct treatment to the underlying infection, which should increase the likelihood that a complete cure can be achieved.