Ingrown Toenail Surgery & Post-Op Care

Tyler HurstReview86 Comments

Picture these attached to the inside of your big toenails. The fat part should attach at the cubicle.

(The images shown here may be graphic to some or my hairy, bloody toes may offend you. If you’re worried, stop reading right now.)

My name is Tyler and I’ve been in an abusive relationship with my nails for as long as I can remember. For all my childhood and the first decade of adulthood, I chewed my fingernails. I chewed them to the nubbins until they hurt.

Sometimes they bled. There were hangnails every day. For years, I had no idea that what I had WAS a hangnail, and had always heard about hangnails being such horribly painful maladies. Ridiculous, I know, but I thought what I had was normal. I’d be approaching 30 by the time I overcame that nasty habit.

And that’s where I thought it ended. And then I started running more. And then I noticed that my toes hurt.

Picture these attached to the inside of your big toenails. The fat part should attach at the cuticle.

Every step hurt. Every step always hurt. Not just when I ran, but whenever my toes had pressure on them, like say, at the end of a bed with tucked in sheets (I kick the sheets out to avoid pain, not because I had some weird claustrophobic thing). More so after I played sports that required lateral movement, like tennis and basketball, but I figured the pain in my big toes was just part of that. What I didn’t know was that the nails curved inward at each edge, digging into the sides of each one. Man, that hurts to think about it that way.

Clippers and nippers hurt! Way painful. No matter how hard I tried, I could never cut off enough. One time, while I was recovering from pilonidal cyst surgery, I’d managed to angle cut down almost to the cuticle of the outside of my big toe (outside being relative to my body) and went to my normal doctor. She brought in some old dude who shoved pliers into the side of my toe, sending painful shocks through my body that made me convulse, which irritated my still-open wound hole.

It hurt so f***ing bad.

While the acute pain subsided after the skin on the side of my toe healed, the nail eventually grew back and dug in again. Instead of trying to trim it, I went the opposite way and let it grow back out, hoping that the problem was just that I sucked at toenail cutting. After three-ish months, the nail came back and my left toe hurt again. Like before, I ignored it and went about my running.

Super-sharp knife being used to separate my nail. She also cut a bit of the toe, but that's normal and heals quickly.

Five half marathons, a few years and hundreds of training miles later, the outside of my left toe hurt so much that removing the toenail seemed like a great idea. Remembering that my nurse practitioner was a distance runner, I asked her what to do. She referred to me Dr. Serrina Yozsa, a podiatrist working out of the office adjacent to Scottsdale Hospital on Osborn by the Scottsdale Giants stadium. I walked in, she did some ingrown toenail surgery and sent me home. Recovery was quick and spring 2011 is the first time in my life that athletic activity didn’t make my left toe hurt worse.

While the nail eventually did start to curve into my flesh again, her trimming job allowed me access to the offending area. A quick snip and file solved that issue. But now that the outside of my LEFT toe no longer hurt, I realized that the inside of BOTH big toes hurt a helluva lot, too.

Have you ever tried to use nippers and clippers on the inside of your big toe? Holy hell that area is sensitive. No matter how long I soaked my toes in hot water, no matter how careful I was with the cutting and no matter how many painkillers I took beforehand, I just couldn’t trim enough of the nail back to alleviate the pain. And because the area was so inflamed, I usually ended up cutting the skin on my toe, adding to the pain.

Three shots in my left toe, six in my right. I felt every one.

Don’t think my toe LOOKED all that bad, though. While the area was red, it was impossible to tell anything was wrong, which is why I was so hesitant to get it taken care of in the first place. I’m not sure if I was waiting for it to swell up and start draining pus, but I just couldn’t bring myself to get checked out by Yozsa again. And then I started playing tennis again, with the lateral movement re-igniting the digging and the pain. After completing the Tough Mudder, I headed back in to Yozsa for another round of ingrown toenail surgery.

(I don’t have health insurance, which was another barrier to getting this checked out. My bill for all three surgeries was around $250 per toe, which was totally worth it and I’d pay it again.)

The procedure was the same as previous: three shots at the base of my toe (six for my right toe, because it was slightly sprained from Tough Mudder and far more sensitive), then a mini log-splitter-ish tool to separate the ingrown part down to the cuticle, then pliers to rip that part out, followed by a wooden kabob stick with its tip dip in some kind of chemical that burned and killed my root. It looked far more painful than in felt. Well, that is until I woke up a few hours later when my numbing medication wore off and my toes screamed, “holy hell you ripped a nail out of us! And you cut us up in a really sensitive area! What the hell?!”

This scared me a bit, but most of that gross stuff came off during the initial soak.

I spent 2-4:30am that night alternating between gently laying a bag of ice on my flat-on-the-ground feet and then laying on the floor with my feet up on the couch. It hurt, I could barely walk and all I wanted to do was fall back asleep. Mercifully, that throbbing pain was nearly gone the next morning. Good thing, as my post-op care involved SCRUBBING THE WOUND WITH A TOOTHBRUSH.

Yeah, seriously. Twice a day, I was to soak my toes in warm water with vinegar and baby shampoo, then scrub with a toothbrush, then soak in some anti-bacterial spray, then apply wound dressing, then cover it with at first gauze and wrap, than large bandages. Twice a day for a week, then once a day for a week and then…healing?

It worked. Just like last time, I healed in about two weeks without any infection complications or horrific pain beyond that initial shock during the first night. While I couldn’t wear shoes or Vibrams for ten days, it was a small price to pay for pain-free walking, running and tennis playing for the rest of my life.

In the following gallery, you can see images from my surgery (including the pieces they tore out of my foot. Notice the angle on those pieces, as the small part is what I was able to trim back. Nuts that my nails dug so deep.) as well as pictures from a few days after the initial surgery. I’d guess that mine was a fairly typical case, as we were never much worried about infection. I was able to play tennis 12 days after the surgery (not well, but I could move) and am pain free three weeks later. There’s still some healing to be done, and some dead skin to be trimmed back, but I can’t feel the digging in anymore.

If you’re having problems with your nails and fear ingrown toenail surgery, don’t. It’s totally worth it.

Tyler HurstIngrown Toenail Surgery & Post-Op Care

86 Comments on “Ingrown Toenail Surgery & Post-Op Care”

    1. Jonathan Ramirez

      No, the Post up is the hardest part and taking care of it. You can literally feel were the shots done and what was removed after the procedure if not taken your medication, as if the doctor was stabbing you over and over with that sharp needle.

  1. Jamie Pattullo

    oh god!!!  i just had this done…which is why i’m looking around.  i refused to watch any of it and can barely look at my feet now and you post pictures?!!!  ugh!

  2. Will M.

    I had this done, my right toe was infected so it took 4 shots in that one and two in the other. Because my right big toe was infected, they didn’t put the stuff on to keep it from growing back. Guess what, after maybe 5 months I am going back in two days. I have to admit, I almost passed out after the shots.

    1. tdhurst

      Oh man, that really sucks.

      This was my second surgery, but I’ve never had the same area done twice. I do have to do regular upkeep to keep my nails from curving again. It sucks, but at least I can dig them out myself now.

      1. StaceyK

        I am one week out, and still in pain. What are the proportions of vinegar, baby shampoo and warm water? My doctor told me to use Epsom salt soaks and thick ointment daily. Maybe the vinegar, baby shampoo and toothbrush scrubbing is what I need, as it looks like a lot of dead skin next to the nail. Thank you for the info!

    1. cindy

      had toenail removal yesterday, the shots were very,very intense, second time for this toe, killed the nail bed this time, hope that ends my problem.

  3. Jonathan Ramirez

    I walked 5 miles after i got the whole nail removed.. big mistake.. The pain was unbearable, I contemplated calling an ambi. but then again itwas *5 Miles* don’t ask why I had to walk. My toe wass till numb after the first 3… I took about 1600mg of painkillers (normal dose was half that) and i STILL felt the pain. After the first hour I began to get a little tipsy, and then after the second I was fine. :)

  4. Jazz

    I just had this done on both side of mt big toe on each foot….
    My question is do yoy lose your toe nail and will it grow back

  5. angels

    Hello just had this surgery done yesterday. Can someone tell me, am I supposed to remove the gauze now and leave it off and just apply the neosporin for a few days after soaking and thoroughly scrubbing it clean. or does the gauze and toe sock stay on longer?

      1. angels

        Okay I’m asking because the doctor says to keep gauze on for the first 7 days. but it stays very moist and goopy Like that. I would think to heal it needs to have air. All in all it just doesnt look good

  6. Emily Jeanette Slater

    I just had my surgery done today. Didn’t think it was going to happen either. I had been dealing with a mild case of ingrown toenail on the right side of my right big toe. Had been dealing with pain for a few months before attempting to trim it back on my own. it worked at first til it started growing back..then it hurt again. So i went to the doctor to get it fixed before it became a real problem. It sounds like mine was a lot easier then what most of you went through. The doctor sprayed this really cold stuff on my toe before giving me the shot, so instead of feeling any pain, i felt just pressure..Honestly, it was like someone had just dipped my toe in snow or a cold lake. And all i could feel was pressure when he inserted the needle. After that the rest was a cake walk. The offending part of the nail was out in seconds. To be safe, he removed the right side of the nail, similar to how the guy in this forum had his removed. I just hope i can keep up on cleaning it. And that the pain isn’t too bad when the nummness wears off. The only thing i’m really worried about is today is tuesday night. and i work a retail cashier job from thursdays through sunday…I hope it won’t hurt to bad on those days

  7. genma

    I had the surgury done a few weeks ago but ny doctors making me keep my covered all the time which is making the scabs go white and kind of like when you skin your knee and have a bath. but he said they were healing fine but I think I will go back in a week.if it hasn’t stopped

  8. Vashti Encarnacion

    I’m having this procedure with the chemical done tomorrow…well today now; it’s past midnight. I had the “minor” version w/o the chemical done in February, but the nail pulled a fast one and took a dive back into my skin. My question is regarding the recovery time. It definitely looks like tomorrow will be ice packs & pain meds, but how soon after that should I anticipate being able to get around with minimal pain?

    1. tdhurst

      I was playing tennis at eight days.

      Walking around without a limp after four.

      Follow the care instructions to the letter and you should be fine.

      1. Vashti Encarnacion

        Thanks. The procedure went well, shots were definitely the worst part. Today is 1 week later and it feels worse than it did hours after it was done. Lots of discharge and redness, not to mention really sore around the base of my toe (cuticle area)…:>( Of course, today is the day after Christmas and the office is closed.

  9. Pk Zabi

    hello ..
    my surgery have done since may 2012
    i’m very thankfull to God .. Now i’m alright
    my foot nail was growing
    the DOCTOR operate it & now i’m right
    i ve’nt prblm :) my foots are right

  10. Jamie Wilson

    I had this done. In 5 days it will be four months since the procedure and it has come back again. I don’t want to have this procedure done again but I know I will have to. Completely infected again. I was giving multiple shots about 5 in one toe. My toe still have the scars from when the needles were injected. The pictures above are nothing like what my toe looked like afterwards. My whole entire top part of my big toe was completely black and blue. If I could upload a picture here I would. But after the surgery I didn’t feel any pain, even when it was in the healing process. I actually for awhile had no feeling of my toe. What scares me the most is that I have diabetes and you have to be very careful with trauma especially to your feet. Ingrown toenails are so painful and I feel bad for people who have them.

    1. madison mathlin

      Yeah ive had it for 5 mounths and i hear u get scars
      from it ifits true im pretty sceard even more +
      if u toe was that bad im tolld that i will only have
      2 injections i really dont want scars :s

      1. jwarrior

        I never got any scars and I had it done 3 times. I’m finally gonna have them do the chemical procedure to stop it. Usually its hereditary, my dad got them, but I never started getting them until I hit puberty. I only get them on my right toe. Hurts but definitely worth it.

  11. Luu

    Ffff, I’m terrified of needles and have a badly ingrown toenail,
    I was talking myself round to get it seen to, thinking, it can’t be that bad…
    I’m sat here dizzy now after reading so many times how bad the shots were.
    Were they seriously THAT BAD? Oh god…

    1. tdhurst

      Only one toe was bad, but it was totally worth it.

      This was my second surgery (first one was the other side of my left, big toe).

      I’d do it again.

  12. Cat

    Without a doubt, only use a specialist. I had it done by a GP first…big mistake. That was horribly painful. Second time, used a podiatrist…piece of cake. My son now has to have one removed, but I am going to ask if they can kill the root so it does not grow back. Both sides of both of my toes were cut out and roots killed. Never another problem with them. Without the roots killed…had to have the second surgery. 1) only use a podiatrist 2) ask them to kill the root if possible 3) the first shot hurts, but not any worse than hitting your toe on something…so totally worth it. Do not be afraid.

  13. Sandra

    I’ve suffered for years! In May of this year both toes were so bad, I was in tears. The right side of the right toe became infected. For 3 days I could not walk. A friend who had had the procedure done to 8 toes all at the same time, made me an appointment. I’ll say this right now, thank God I never googled anything prior to the surgery, and thank God she never told me what all was involved!! She knows I’d have cancelled. I had this done on 6 June and am still healing!! I’m a slow healer and its winter here now, so crap for me. My friend had to use Epsom Salts already back in 2000, every day for a week. My bandages were only allowed off on the 4th day for the first time, where I had to soak in Saline solution every day for a week. This was followed by ointment, a special strip of gauge which had its own ointment, then clear gauge and finally bandaged again. When I went for my one week check up, my toes (both big toes, both sides) were very red due to dryness. So, Oh my word, she had to ‘clean’ them!!! At one point, I kicked so high and hard, I’m surprised I didn’t connect with the doctor and knocked her out! They were still sensitive, not painful. Anyway, she applied what looked like leather strips into each wound (all 4), and re-bandaged. I had to have these on for another 4 days while soaking them twice a day for this period. I slept in my lounge for two weeks on the recliner. Not because of pain, but sensitivity from the weight of the duvet. Me toes seeped for three weeks, and still do, very minimally though, today. This Thursday was a month exactly. I still have quite a bit of crusted blood, no matter what I do as it keeps healing and forming a crust every time I clean it. They are healing, slowly. Depending on the extent of the ingrown toenail, healing can take up to two months. I see this is my lot. After all of this, the injections are most definitely the most excruciating part, and I practically screamed bloody murder! I had to have 3 on each side, and felt every single one! worth it, regardless. After? It was bliss. Prior to walking out, I was told to take two painkillers, which was awesome. The throbbing was minimal once feeling returned, and no pain since I walked out of the hospital. At all. My nails are still curved, but I’ve been told it takes at least 6 months for changes to occur. Lets see. Was it worth the excruciating injection pain? Absolutely, because the relief is beyond amazing. That was the only pain I had throughout the whole process. My toes look just like your picture, with the exception that all 4 sides were done. For those suffering, dont wait, don’t try to fix it yourself. It just builds and gets worse eventually. Much as it happened to me. Not worth it. See a podiatrist. Wish I’d done this years ago!! Oh, I only mangaged to put socks on in my second week as it just felt weird, and shoes only in my third week. Due to nails still being sensitive. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  14. Bethany

    Had my left toe done on 3rd June and its now fully healed, had my other toe done a few weeks later. Hurt a bit more and is weeping a lot now but it’s okay. I’m walking fine but I’ve been advised to lay off sports for a few months. Really happy with the results so far

  15. Brandon

    I had my toenails done about three weeks ago. They aren’t sore or swollen anymore but they are still weeping/bleeding a small amount and they appear to still be “open”. Is this normal after 3 weeks ?

  16. madison mathlin

    I have this problem at the moment and i have a big pice of skin growing next to the nail so when i go to cut it it is so pain full and the skin covers over my nail so i cant reach the nail very well , and so next mon i will have an opration with 2 needles which im so damm sceard of , im so sceard of them that i counldn’t care less if my right foot went gangrenre , ih gosh eveytime i think about it , ut reminds me i only have 5 day and losing . I’m so worryed i keep thinking what if it goes wrong 2 needles my god ….

  17. Joana

    Hello Tyler, im having it done tomorrow and im freaking out. Sorry to ask again but i didn’t quite get it the last time you answered thid question: did your nail grow back normally after the surgery? You only got the sides done right? Do they grow weird or deformed?
    Thank you

  18. Julie

    I just got 1/3 of the inside of my right on toe nail removed on the 16th of this month (6 days ago) and the pain hasn’t subsided at all!! I had an extreme infection in the toe and nail almost 3 weeks ago and have been on antibiotics since then. I was hoping by now that my toe would stop throbbing, but as the days go by, the throbbing stays the same! My Dr. told me to clean & change the bandaging (and use a triple antibiotic ointment) once a day, when I do this it is absolutely excruciating! I have painkillers but they aren’t even phasing the pain that I am in, and I’m no wimp! I’m contemplating calling his office tomorrow, as I feel like it’s not normal for my toe to still be throbbing. I’ve been soaking it and keeping it clean, the thought of scrubbing it with a toothbrush though makes my skin crawl!

  19. Rya Webb

    I got mine done, both sides on both big toes and being terrified of needles didn’t help matters when they are the most painful needle sticks in the whole world! My first toe went fine but the left one had to be poked to numb it like 6 times for whatever reason I could still feel stuff. And now 3 days later that’s the one that still hurts like hell. The other one is definitely manageablr. But my questions are 1. I only gave myself 5 days to recover and my job involves lots of walking around and close toed shoes..will I be able to handle that? And also my doc said something about using cotton under the nail as it grows back to prevent it from growing the same way. Was anybody else told this? I’m super confused by that part of the instructions. And how did anybody end up getting the black chemical off their foot? Thanks!

    1. Tyler Hurst

      The black chemical fades are you skin grows.

      My right toe hurt a lot afterwards too, because it took more shots to numb it.

      You should be fine with closed-toe shoes, just expect to limp a bit.

      Yes, you can stuff cotton in between your nail and your toe, right where it was cut, to prevent a skin-like nail-ish thing from forming.

      My nails kinda grow down from the side, so I trimmed them a bunch to keep them from growing back, but I should have used cotton.

  20. Hannah

    I just had this surgery done today, around noon. I know I’m suppose to soak it 2-3 times a day but I forgot to ask if I was suppose to keep the bandage till tomorrow or start the soaking tonight. What was recommended to you? Oh and for those who are asking about the injection pain I was extremely worried about that before I went in. Everything online I read said that it was extremely painful but to be honest, it wasn’t that painful. Just a bad pinch where the needle went in. I didn’t watch while he did it and did deep controlled breaths while he was injecting it. I expected far worse. It’s now 5 hours post op and I’ve taking 1.5 pain killers and I’m doing fine. Don’t know if it’s because the numbing agents he used are still in effect, the painkiller, the offending nail being gone or a combination of all three but so far so good. not looking forward to unwrapping and soaking though. Fearing that’s gonna hurt, but we’ll see.

  21. Hannah

    Thanks Tyler! Super appreciate your response! I thought I had asked every question I needed to post op but I guess that one slipped my mind! Probably because it was in the ER and I know the doc’s are super busy and my toe was the last on their mind (it not being a “real” emergency). However I am pregnant and it was infected and my OB told me to go in. I was just worried beacuse I can see the blood through the gauze and wondered if it needed to be changed to a fresh clean gauze for healing purposes.

  22. Eli Sprague

    I just had a surgery yesterday, the shots were very easy, two to numb the pain and I barely felt them. The procedure was very quick. Definitely worth it. He trimmed the nail and killed the root. There is clear seepage and a very dull slight ache. He told me to wait 3 daye but I took it off after 36 hours after researching online. Hopefully this won’t happen again. Glad I went in to a podiatrist after 3 months of stubborn pain.

  23. Nina

    I had my surgery a week ago and the swelling is so bad after the procedure. I had both of my toe nails done both sides on each toe. It was a horrible feeling after. The pain was so intense and I have been taking 2 tabs of Tylenol 500 mg every 4 hours round the clock. I would be relieve of the pain for the two hours only and after I would start feeling the burning pain on my toes that you wish it was just amputated. I do not know why the doctors can not prescribe any anti-inflamatory to help us relieve the pain. It has been almost 10 days and the pain never disappeared. I took my chances and took an anti inflamatory that I have and it gave me a lot of relief. I wish the doctors should know better than saying just to take Tylenol or Aleeve. I have been soaking my feet twice a day morning and evening with Epsom salt and 2 squirts of betadine. Wipe it dry and then put on ointment that the dr has prescribed to prevent infection wrap it in a gauze and band aid around it. I left the top open to let the wound have some breathing space. Today I decided to put a band aid on top toe since I was going to church to prevent infection. Oh that felt so good. My toes a feeling a lot better. BTW, I was also taking antibiotic Levofloxacin and since the swelling was so bad the dr gave me additional antibiotic climdamycin. I went back to the dr after 3 days and he injected me again and clean my toe nails and tomorrow I will go back again for another cleaning. I am sure I will have another shot again when he does the cleaning. The injection is not as bad as I thought. The cold spray really help a lot before he gives the injection. The gentle hands of the dr really help a lot in the process. I could say this because when he did the procedure he was very tender. when I came back for cleaning, he was in a hurry to do it because there were patients waiting after me and it was really different. Like he does not care if you get hurt. It’s like he is saying deal with it. But on the other hand I can not afford to hate him. He is just human going through his day to day schedule. I still thank God, he took care of my problem which I have ignored for a year and waited till the time it became worst. I was in complete denial that I needed help from the doctor because of the stories I heard from friends.

    1. Tyler Hurst

      Yikes. Seems like you contracted a bit of an infection. Your situation is why I convinced the doc not to do BOTH toes at once, because I was worried about being immobile. It cost a bit more (another $70 visit fee), but it seemed worth it.

      Good luck and pay attention to that swelling.

  24. Wendy

    I had my toenail completely removed about a day and a half ago and I soaked my foot for over two hours and the gauze is stuck…I drenched it in antibiotic ointment, hoping that would loosen it, but still no luck..Any suggestions?

      1. Wendy

        Yep. I’m going to try soaking it again today. I called the dr and they said it’s normal, but I don’t think it’s usually this stuck…I can’t wait to get back to playing tennis and riding my bicycle again! I had no idea having a toenail removed would be this painful!

        1. Wendy

          The gauze never came off so I went back to the podiatrist. The gauze had ended up incorporating itself under the nail bed. The podiatrist said she had never seen that happen before. I’m special like that, lol! She ended up re-numbing the toe and this time it was extremely painful due to the swelling and tendermess and having the gauze surgically removed. This time I got pain meds and antibiotics for the infection. This has been a slower and more painful recovery than I expected!

  25. Autumn

    I had my left big toe both sides done 3 weeks ago. The shots didn’t hurt me at all and I never really had any pain. My podiatrist told me to soak my foot in epsom salts for 15 minutes 3x a day and to replace the gauze each time for a week. Than after a week I have been leaving the bandage off and just putting it back on at night. The most pain that I have had is when my dog accidentally steps on it or jumps on it. I am still having discharge which is normal and you can have it for up to a month or two. I still have some redness as well but never even really had much swelling. I guess I am just weird like that and I was told to where sandals or open toed shoes for at least the first week or two due to the pressure that tennis shoes can put on the toe. I go back on September 4th for my follow up plus to have my right big toe done. They also went ahead and used the acid to kill the root which causes a 3rd degree chemical burn hence the reason to use the epsom salts to help with the burn.

  26. fran

    My podiatrist offers what they call C&C–they use a round buffing instrument and sort of sand the skin on your foot with it–it smooths the skin and then they concentrate on sanding any calluses or corns (don’t have any) Now I was always told to trim nails straight across so nail would grow out and not hurt, but nurse then trimmed in all the corners of my nails a lot. I asked her about this and she said she noticed I had the beginnings of ingrown nails. Yes, it did relieve the pressure and no pain but now I’m worried that this cutting into the corner. I was always told not to, internet is full of sites that say if you do this you will definitely get badly ingrown nails. Also, nurse mentioned this method of cutting the ingrown toenail out. My questions are: 1) So will this type of trimming the nails lead to a slight ingrown to get worse? Like did nurse do this to create future business–I hate putting it that way but…..Any input from anyone on this? 2) What is the black discoloration I see mentioned? Does it wash away or does it take months for skin to slough off? How bad or big is the black area? How long to go away? 3) How does your big toenail look afterwards? I mean, after all the healing and things are normal, does it look super skinny or weird if you have to have both sides done? 4) I don’t quite get the part about skin growing in where the nail was removed and that skin can get hard and hurt. Can you elaborate please? 5) I seeing people writing about drainage. How much? How do you handle it when you are at work? How much gauze do you have to use to keep it from leaking? Nurse said after day 1 remove gauze and go to a simple bandaid–is that enough to absorb seepage? Thanks–I’m just anticipating!

    1. Tyler Hurst

      1) So will this type of trimming the nails lead to a slight ingrown to get worse? Like did nurse do this to create future business–I hate putting it that way but…..Any input from anyone on this?
      No, it will not cause ingrown nails, but it could make them worse. Depends on if you’re growing from the base or the nail itself.

      2) What is the black discoloration I see mentioned? Does it wash away or does it take months for skin to slough off? How bad or big is the black area? How long to go away?
      Few months. Just peels all away.

      3) How does your big toenail look afterwards? I mean, after all the healing and things are normal, does it look super skinny or weird if you have to have both sides done?
      Mostly the same, just without the reddened skin.

      4) I don’t quite get the part about skin growing in where the nail was removed and that skin can get hard and hurt. Can you elaborate please?
      That’s just me. My nail grows down on the sides, and that hurts. Most people’s grow from the base of their nail.

      5) I seeing people writing about drainage. How much? How do you handle it when you are at work? How much gauze do you have to use to keep it from leaking?
      Just enough to cover it. The drainage has never come close to soaking through.

      1. fran

        Thanks so much for your response. Amazing how small our toes are compared to the rest of our bodies–but can they cause grief!!!!

  27. Rudy t

    Had my toenail removed 14 days ago and I feel like the pain is also most the same before and after removal. Before removal it was very painful to walk and wear shoes being it had gottened infected and afterwards it’s been very tender. Injections were painful, I was injected 8 times. After the 6th I went numb. I’ve bumped my toe a few times but I’m still having a lot of pain even up to the point of not being able to sleep because of pain, dr never said to soak just to keep it dry….been a painful ordeal hopefully I get better soon….

  28. Jesse Ray

    I had to have a complete ablation on my left big toenail in October of 2011 and have not had another problem since. Just had the same thing on my right big toe last Monday due to my RSD the pain has been terrible since.

  29. Rola

    Hi,

    I did the surgery a few weeks ago ( burning of the nail matrix) and now I have still have intense pressure. Is this normal ? could it have grown back?
    Thanks

  30. Michelle

    Just had mine done today, still numb so no pain yet, the needle was just uncomfortable. The most painful thing was watching the procedure, but after reading all these posts I am very nervous about post op pain. Keeping my fingers crossed I am one of the lucky ones.

  31. Nicole

    Hi. I had this minor surgery four months ago.but still there is a gap between my toe nail and the cuticle on both toes.I am worried does this get better?

  32. Daryl

    I Had the big toenail on my right foot removed on Friday the 11th of April at 11 am. Post op instructions were to soak 2x a day for 10 mins in lukewarm soapy water, leave the bandage from the Dr on for the first 48 hrs also take clindamycin 3x/daily. after 48 hrs i am to remove the bandage,soak for10 mins apply Mupirocin ointment and then wrap with a band aid. I am wondering if it’s normal to still be experiencing minor bleeding 33 hrs later and some throbbing.

  33. Daryl

    No pain anywhere else. I am a lil worried that all of the posters seem to have been told about epsom salt and or the scrubbing with a tootbrush and none of that was mentioned to me.

  34. russ

    its funny cause i always have had this problem since i was 18 but always took care of it my self im 43 now, i always thought i was the only one who had this till i read about it on here . i would have to dig it out just like your pics and yes it hurt but as im sure you can agree its that brief moment of real bad pain to finely get major re-leaf i have a hole set of tools i use to do the job its like im a pro now ,,, i never got a infection so far so i must be doing it right lolol… self extraction isn’t for everyone but then again Ive been doing it since i was 18…

  35. Sabrina

    I had ingrown toenail surgery about 3 weeks ago and my big toe is still sore and there is still a space with dead skin, my question is will this dead skin fall off on its own or will I have to go back to get it trimmed off? How long does it take for your toe to look normal again?

  36. Dolly

    I had the acid procedure on both big toe nails in January of 2014…it is now June and my toes are still not healed. I have been on several antibiotics for infections and still am soaking my toes in warm water with Epsom salts and applying bacitracin and bandaging daily. If I had known this would be so long in healing I would not have had it done.

  37. Rachel

    Thank-you for writing so honestly about you’re toenail dramas!
    I’m 22 and yesterday I had my 5th surgery on an ingrown toenail (both sides of both big toes and an extra that wasn’t fixed up properly the first time). I’ve had the chemical burns, minor trims and yesterday’s incision down to the bone with 4 stitches….Thank-you genetics and sports!
    I had little sleep last night because of the relentless throbbing and couldn’t remember the last surgery recovery (5 years ago) being so flipping painful! I was worried I might have developed a weak pain threshold but after reading about your antics with a bag of ice at 2am, I feel better about being in so much pain. :P No one seems to understand what a hassle they are but I’m thankful I’m not the only one who always has issues with my toes.

    1. Tyler Hurst

      Wait until I share my latest story of REMOVING both my big toenails (because I tired of having the sides constantly worked on) and one getting infected. Hooboy!

      You’re not alone in the late-night pain!

  38. Caroline

    Hey, name’s Caroline and I had a question about the recovery process. I’ve had the partial nail removal about 3 times, had 7 ingrown toes overall, but I fixed 4 of them myself. Recently I got a surgery, and I’m not sure if the healing involves under the nail turning purple. Like a dark shade, is it suppose to do that or is it infected? Because I’ve been putting neosporin on it and warping it to keep clean for a week now. Let me know? Thanks!

  39. Braden

    I just had this operation done on my left big toe, they removed roughly between ¼ and ⅓ of the left side of the nail, all the way back to the cuticle/matrix/whatever it’s called. Like, they apparently twisted the nail to pull it out. Does it still grow back, and if so, how long does it take to grow? And is it even really noticeable, once it grows back completely?

    Also I work night shift at Kroger, pulling around pallets of stock for hours on end. I’m consistently on my feet. How long will I need off before I can really handle this? The doctor said I’d be fine in a day, but I don’t believe that for a second. It’s been a day and a half and it’s still incredibly sore to the point I can’t walk at all. What do I do?

    Thank you so much for all the info on here. This page has helped a lot with so many people, and I’m hoping for the same for me. c:

    1. Tyler Hurst

      Did they insert a wooden stake, with some sort of acid, into your cuticle? If they did, there’s a 93% chance it won’t grow back.

      I took three days off from any kind of movement (for me, that was tennis and running) when I had my nails clipped like yours. It took about that amount of time for the pain to go away, but in hindsight I would have stayed off my feet more.

      Any chance your doc can recommend a week or two of light duty where you can use crutches or sit down (maybe drive a forklift)? My doc was willing to write notes to whoever she needed to, and though I didn’t need it, I can see how many people would.

      Just be completely honest about the pain. If you get yourself an infection (which I did when I had both my big toenails removed earlier this year that I’m going to write a post like this about), you’ll be COMPLETELY out of commission for 3-5 days.

  40. Braden

    Nope. I wasn’t looking (I’m extremely squeamish and haemophobic) but I was told what was being done since it was a student supervised by a trainer doing the work. They only removed the side of the nail and the shards that had grown into the skin, no damage to the nail bed or anything. The dye they used pre-op looks gross, but other than that, it’s apparently a very clean job, just looks like part of the nail is missing so the skin under it is now exposed. They said it’d grow back in a few weeks, but everywhere else I’m reading said it takes months to regrow. I’m rather OCD, so I’m scared it’ll look “wrong” for a long time, if you get what I mean.

    I can probably talk to my supervisors about working with others as a team instead of by myself, and acknowledge I can’t put pressure on my feet without risking further damage, and hope they cooperate with my disability. Even if it’s just an entry level job, I love my coworkers and intend on staying, I just can’t do much immediately after this kind of operation, and I don’t want them to look down upon me for taking time off after I’ve only worked for 5 weeks. I didn’t know what the operation was going to be, or I’d have asked sooner for a couple weeks of medical leave, just to be safe.

    I’m glad the operation was done, it’s a lot better than it getting worse or infected. But it definitely creeps me out if I see it, and I’m hoping it heals pretty quickly. Any tips to avoid recurrence? I know clipping straight across (square cut?) is important, but I’m thinking I need wider shoes, and I’m probably going to soak my feet in warm water regularly, just to keep the nails softer and less likely to cause problems. Anything else I can do? I’d like to avoid this ever again, if at all possible.

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