Have you heard about people (mostly women) getting cosmetic surgery for their feet? Doctors are offering crazy procedures: foot surgery for so-called fat toes. Changes to your foot shape so your high heels don't hurt. You can even sculpt your leg for a sleeker calf and ankle.
Look, I get it. This is not the first time cosmetic foot surgery has been in the news. I mean, right now, it's probably less common.
But still, these things come in trends. Toe shortening surgery was all the rage a few years ago. We still get calls about in our Houston podiatry office about it. Now, most cases of toe shortening are due to hammertoes. And surgery to narrow the foot is often because of bunions, (painful bumps on the side of your big or little toe joint.) Both of these conditions, when painful, are good reasons to get foot surgery.
But what I can't approve is cosmetic surgery for your feet. For any non-medical reason. I mean, we need our feet to support us as we walk, run and move through life. Sure, we want every part of us to look its best. But we can make our feet look better with pedicures, pretty socks or stockings, cool shoes. And proper foot care.
I know that, sometimes, it's hard to love parts of yourself that doesn't look the way you want. But I also think that cosmetic foot procedures are scary. If you understand that, I think you'll reconsider going under the knife for cuter toes.
Can Toes be Obese? Or too Long?
Are you wondering what's the deal with "toe-besity?" Is it due to a structural issue, is there pain involved, or is it a cosmetic concern? And here's my answer: each case will be different. You could have a bone spur in your toe. And that could make it appear fatter. But bone spurs usually hurt. So you'd know if fat toes were a medical problem. Especially when your toe feels the pressure of your shoe.
And what about toe-shortening surgery? Remember we touched on that just a minute ago? Well, even though it's not so trendy right now, some people still try this remedy for hammertoes...without the results they expect. That was certainly the case for Athena, who chose toe-shortening surgery only to face taunts from friends who say she now looks like she has "gremlin feet." Clearly, not a good procedure, and not a good reason to get cosmetic foot surgery. But what is?
Well, having bone spurs is a good reason to "thin" your toe. That surgery would remove your bone spur, reduce pressure, and offer pain relief. But if you just don't like a thick big toe? In that case, it's up to you and your podiatrist to decide what's best.
Now let's look at some other cosmetic feet procedures. I promise to share my honest opinion about each option.
Foot Lifts and Cankle Lipo: No I'm Not Joking
Well, what are you going to think about these two procedures? The first is called a ‘loob job,’ (named for Louboutin heels.) Your doctor injects fillers like Juvederm or Restylane into the ball of your foot. The goal? To feel like you're walking on cushions, even when you're wearing the highest of heels. Results last about a year and a half.
Because those results were temporary, we got another 'great innovation:' foot lifts! (Also known as PDO thread therapy!) This procedure gets rid of cankles, or ankles and calves that mold together because of fat deposits in your lower leg. It involves sewing micro-fine threads of Polydioxanone (a substance that dissolves over time) under your skin. This gives your leg an immediate lift.
And those threads also promote collagen production. (In addition to who-knows-what else.) This means the full lifting benefit shows up four months after your procedure. After new collagen forms around the foreign material stuck in your leg. At first, this of procedure was designed for facelifts. But then someone thought: hey, this could work for feet, too! Those results last about three years.
But wait, there's more! Another head-scratching cosmetic surgery rising in popularity? Liposuction for cankles! Using high-definition liposuction, doctors can tighten your skin and contour your leg. This creates a more narrow-looking ankle (which, as an added bonus, fits better into stylish boots.) What do you guys think? Are these great ideas or, to quote Sports Illustrated (and 2020). "A sign of the apocalypse?"
I'll let you form your own opinions, but here is my philosophy. Cosmetic foot surgery shouldn't be a thing. Now, getting rid of painful bunions, hammertoes, and bone spurs can be cosmetic. But the main goal of those procedures is pain relief. You need your feet to walk and should not risk ongoing pain from a procedure that has no medical necessity.
Preventing Hammertoes and Bunions
You know what's smarter than going under the knife? Working to stop these unsightly foot problems before they start! Sometimes, your genes or body structure increase your risk for bunions and hammertoes. But sometimes, bad shoes push you over the edge. And right into trouble territory.
If you want to avoid problems, pick supportive shoes with roomy toe boxes. These won't squish your toes together, affecting your muscles or bone growth.
Next, you can strengthen your toe muscles, to keep them going in the right direction. Try extending and curling your toes every day to help keep them flexible. It's kind of fun (and good exercise) to pick up small items like marbles with your toes.
You can also support your foot health with good blood flow. Put up your feet when you can. Give your feet a nice, warm soak at the end of the day. Or even treat yourself to a home pedicure!
These ideas can help keep your feet looking cute. But if you still think you need surgery, that's ok. Contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider. We will discuss your treatment options and find the best solution for you. And we will only schedule you for an operation that you need to feel better!