Over the past few years, there have been growing reports of a people (mostly women) seeking cosmetic surgery for their feet. And there are seemingly no end to the procedures many doctors are offering: some people want foot surgery for so-called fat toes. Other people want to alter their anatomy so high heels don't hurt as much. And still others want to surgically sculpt themselves a sleeker calf and ankle.
Look, I get it. This is not the first time cosmetic foot surgery has been in the news. Toe shortening surgery was all abuzz in the past, and we still get calls in our Houston podiatry office about it. Truthfully, most cases of toe shortening is because of a hammertoe. Similarly, surgery to narrow the foot is often due to a bunion on the foot, which is a painful bump on the side of the great toe joint. Both of these conditions, when painful, are suitable reasons for foot surgery.
But what I can't advocate 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 improve the appearance of our feet with pedicures, pretty socks or stockings, and really cool shoes. I know that, sometimes, it can be tough to embrace that part of yourself that doesn't look the way you think it should. But I believe that, if you really understand what's involved in cosmetic foot procedures, you'd think twice (or more than that) about going under the knife to get a slightly cuter toe.
Can Toes Really be Obese?
So, you're probably wondering: what's the deal with "toe-besity?" Is it due to a structural issue, is there pain involved, or is it simply a cosmetic concern? And here's my answer: each case will be different. It is possible that a bone spur can form in your toe, making it appear fatter; if that's the case for you, however, you will likely experience pain, especially when your toe gets pressure in a shoe.
This is a good reason to have surgery to "thin" the toe, since that surgery would actually remove your bone spur, reduce the pressure, and eliminate your pain. Then again, some people are just overly-critical about their appearance and don't like that thick big toe. There may be nothing wrong, but they don't like the way it looks. In that case, it's up to the expertise (and integrity) of your podiatrist to help you decide what is best for you.
Now let's look at some of the other cosmetic feet procedures we've all been hearing about, and I'll share my honest take on the situation with you.
Foot Lifts and Cankle Lipo: No I'm Not Joking
Of course, those results were temporary, which brought about the next great innovation: foot lifts, otherwise known as PDO thread therapy! For the unfamiliar, the procedure (intended to get rid of cankles, or ankles and calves that mold together due to fat deposits in the lower leg) involves sewing multiple micro-fine threads of Polydioxanone (a substance that dissolves over time) under the skin to give your leg a supposedly immediate lift. The threads are injected to your body using a micro-needle that also lifts your tissue.
In addition to the immediate lifting effect, the threads supposedly promote collagen production (in addition to who-knows-what else) so that the full lifting benefit will appear about four months after the initial procedure, when new collagen has formed around the inserted foreign material. Originally, this type of procedure was designed to tighten facial skin—i.e. for a facelift—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! With the help of high-definition liposuction, doctors can tighten the skin and contour the leg to create 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, "A sign of the apocalypse?"
I'll let you form your own opinions, but here is my philosophy. We should eliminate cosmetic surgery of the feet. Which is not to say that eliminating a painful bunion, hammertoe, or bone spur doesn't have a cosmetic element, but the importance and purpose of those procedures is to alleviate the painful deformity. You need your feet to walk and should not risk ongoing pain from a procedure that has no medical necessity.
If you think you may have a foot problem that would benefit from surgery, contact Houston podiatrist Dr. Andrew Schneider. We will discuss your options to see which is the best solution for you. And we will only schedule you for an operation that you need to feel better!