Sometimes an ingrown toenail needs more than salt water and Savlon. Sometimes a shard of nail has sliced through your skin.
Soon, you have swollen big toe that jars if you look at a shoe, let alone wear it.
At this point, you need ingrown toenail surgery.
But how much does ingrown toenail surgery cost in the UK? How can you get it cheaper?
What Is An Ingrown Toenail?
It's when a overgrown section of toenail or nail shard breaches your skin. One or both sides of your toe can fall victim.
Now, the sides of your nails are a magnet for infection. Bacteria enters and breeds.
The next thing, you have a swollen red toe that weeps pus.
Not only is the toe infected, you also get hyper granulation tissue, the red, angry skin that envelops the nail.
Signs You Need Ingrown Toenail Surgery
You need ingrown toenail surgery if you've tried salt water baths for weeks to no avail.
Or maybe you've had multiple courses of antibiotics.
You may have tried to cut it back yourself to get brief relief, only for it to come back the next time you bump your foot into something.
Whatever the reason, toenail surgery gets rid of painful, ugly infections and makes sure it doesn't happen again.
Now, that little matter of the cost!
Are There Alternatives to Ingrown Toenail Surgery?
No, dental floss doesn't work. Neither do V-shape cuts.
Antibiotics can slow an infected toenail down; but 9/10 as soon as you finish your course the infection starts up again.
One of the very few products that does work is Gehwol Nail Fluid.
I have to stress though, this works on ingrowing toenails that are in the "painful but not infected and weeping pus stage".
For certain patients, it's a game changer and it also works on corns.
(Use it daily for two weeks, then 3 times a week after that. Lots of my patients no longer need treatment but pop in to buy more every 4 to 6 months)
How Much Does Ingrown Toenail Surgery Cost UK
Why Does Ingrown Toenail Surgery Cost So Much?
Ingrown toenail surgery costs more than corn removal because it involves anaesthetic and aftercare.
It needs a ton of planning as a Podiatrist, not to mention a lot of skill.
We have to gauge the right amount of anaesthetic and toenail to remove. We need to take into account any conditions you have that affect healing.
Last, but not least, we have to anticipate any problems that could occur afterwards. Rare, but they do happen.
The only way you're getting mega cheap ingrown toenail surgery is for an accessory toenail. That's because these split little nails need so little aftercare and numbing.
What Happens in Ingrown Toenail Surgery?
Dedicated YouTube channels cover this, but a Podiatrist will:
It sounds dramatic. In reality, it's a straightforward procedure with few complications and excellent results.
Three Things That Affect Ingrown Toenail Surgery Cost
If you're going private, three main factors influence the cost. These are the type of toenail surgery, where you live and if you need antibiotics and phenol.
Let's look at these in more detail...
Types of Toenail Surgery
There's two main types of ingrowing nail surgery — and one is more expensive.
A partial nail avulsion (PNA) is when only a section/side of your nail is stripped. It's used if the infection is localised to that side.
Total nail avulsion (TNA) means taking the whole nail off. It's actually a simpler procedure, but needs more aftercare. It's also a bigger psychological leap.
As you've probably guessed, the total nail avulsion is more expensive.
Where You Live
This is something of a no-brainer, but cities and affluent areas are more expensive.
This is also true for regions with higher demand for National Health Service nail surgery. In other words, when there's a bigger waiting list.
Podiatrists can prescribe and charge for a short course of antibiotics. This is to calm an infected nail before the procedure as some cases of infected ingrown toenails need this before the surgery.
Phenol is the strong acid that's used to kill off the nail bed. It ensures the nail spike doesn't come back.
Some Pods give the option not to use phenol for a lower cost (more on this below).
Toenail Surgery Cost vs. What's Best For You
Your Podiatrist will assess what you need and benefit you long-term. They'll also take into account your individual factors.
The last thing they want is for you to come back in six days or months with problems.
An Example of Ingrown Toenail Surgery Cost
The cost breakdown would go like this:
New patient appointment and assessment - £50
Another course of antibiotics in the interim - £30
Partial ingrown nail surgery with phenol - £250
Dressings and follow-up appointment 5 days later - Usually included
Total - £330
How to Get Cheaper Ingrown Toenail Surgery
There are two main ways to reduce the cost:
NHS Ingrown Toenail Surgery
Going to the good ol' NHS is pretty self-explanatory. It's free, but you won't get relaxing whale song.
Believe it or not, the process via your GP is pretty straightforward. There's a direct referral pathway.
Typically, the clinics don't tend to have long waiting lists either (weeks usually).
Go to a Local Podiatry School
There are 13 Podiatry schools dotted across the UK (I trained in the one in Cardiff). They're located from Edinburgh down to Brighton.
Now I'll let you in on a little secret: they're screaming out for ingrown toenail surgery patients. The other is that they're much cheaper than a normal clinic.
The drawback is the procedure will take longer. It'll also involve a group of students.
More Ways to Reduce the Cost of Ingrown Toenail Surgery
This isn't the part where I'm going to start recommending v-shaped cuts in nails. If you need ingrowing toenail surgery, then please get it!
But, there are several alternatives to a partial or total nail avulsion (part or all of the nail removed).
Now, these aren't a given; some Podiatrists won't entertain them. But it may be worth asking if budget is a big factor for you.
Ingrown Toenail Surgery Without Phenol
Remember phenol is the chemical used to kill the nail bed that churns out the ingrowing toenail. It's recommended, or you'll probably end up with another infected ingrown toenail.
A lot of Podiatrists do give the option of skipping this step. This results in a procedure that's cheaper.
This is a fancy way of saying removing a sliver of your toenail with a scalpel (as opposed to cutting and lifting it).
Some Podiatrists are excellent at this. They can resection nails that others would opt to go the full hog on.
Without Anaesthetic (!?!)
I mean technically this is an option. I don't recommend it for obvious reasons!
Sure it will bring the cost down for the very budget-minded.
Ultra Cheap Ingrown Toenail Surgery = Red Flag
Be very wary of ads from anyone offering a quick, cheapo fix for this. Infected ingrown toenails are not something to mess with.
This is a procedure that needs a spotless clinical environment with all the right equipment at arms length.
It also requires someone who really knows what they're doing. The best way to ensure this is to make sure they're HCPC-registered Podiatrist.
Ingrown Toenail Surgery Cost (And How to Get it Cheaper)
Women have worse feet than men.
Yep, and it's all down to those ballet-tight footwear.
Fashion is an integral part of your life. Society says so — like corsets.
But it's not only shoes and buying apparel online is a double-edged razor.
You can access stuff you'd never see down your McHigh Street for sweatshop prices.
Then it rocks up and looks (or fits) decidedly different from advertised.
If you've got Amazon Prime, use Try Before You Buy.
You can order six items (including shoes, kids and men's clothes) and cavort in front of a mirror trying them for 7 days. You only pay for what you decide to keep.
(Returns are free).