The entire nail or the portion of the nail growing into the skin may be removed. It is most often done to:
Relieve swelling or pain
Treat an infection
Remove a deformed nail
Correct abnormal nail growth
This procedure is most often done when the nail has repeatedly cause these problems.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Excessive swelling or bleeding
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Problems with blood circulation
What to Expect
Prior to Procedure
Wear comfortable clothing and loose-fitting shoes.
Arrange for a ride home.
You will be given local anesthesia. Only the area that is being operated on will be numbed by an injection.
Description of the Procedure
A local anesthetic will be used to numb the toe. The nail will be cut down towards the cuticle (bottom of the nail) using special tools. Then either the whole nail or part of the nail will be pulled off. A chemical may be put on the cuticle to prevent the nail that was removed from growing back.
How Long Will It Take?
Less than 1 hour
How Much Will It Hurt?
It will likely hurt when the anesthetic is injected into your toe. During the procedure, you will not feel pain, but you will feel pressure and tugging. After the procedure, you will likely have some pain. Your doctor may give you pain relievers.
To help with your recovery:
Wear cotton socks and loose fitting shoes for about 2 weeks.
Do not run or engage in strenuous activities until the toe is healed. You may need to wait 2 weeks.
To avoid future ingrown nails:
Do not wear high heels or shoes that fit poorly.
Trim your toenails straight across. Do not pick or tear at them.
Complete healing takes about 2-3 weeks. This will not interfere with most activities. If the entire nail was removed, your body will create a hard skin in its place. After the skin has covered the sensitive area, you can resume normal activities.
Call Your Doctor
Call you doctor if any of these occur:
Signs of infection, including fever and chills
Redness, swelling, increasing pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the wound
Chalky white, blue, or black appearance to skin of toes or foot
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.