Permanent toenail removal pros and cons

Permanent toenail removal pros and cons, also known as nail avulsion or nail matrix ectomy, is a surgical procedure that involves the complete removal of a toenail to address various nail-related conditions. While this procedure may offer certain benefits, it also comes with its fair share of drawbacks. In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of permanent toenail removal, shedding light on the considerations individuals should keep in mind when contemplating this option.

Permanent toenail removal is typically performed by a qualified podiatrist or foot surgeon. The procedure involves the use of local anesthesia to numb the toe, ensuring minimal discomfort during the surgery. The surgeon carefully removes the entire toenail, including the nail matrix, to prevent regrowth.

After the procedure, it is important to follow proper post-operative care instructions provided by the healthcare professional. This usually includes keeping the area clean and dry, applying prescribed medications or dressings, and avoiding activities that may put excessive pressure on the toe.

While permanent toenail removal can offer relief and improved aesthetics, it is not recommended for everyone. Individuals with certain medical conditions, such as poor circulation or peripheral neuropathy, may not be suitable candidates for this procedure. It is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional who can evaluate your specific situation and provide personalized advice.

Understanding Permanent Toenail Removal

Permanent toenail removal involves the extraction of the entire toenail, including the nail matrix responsible for nail growth. This procedure is typically recommended for individuals suffering from chronic nail conditions, severe ingrown toenails, or recurrent nail infections that haven’t responded well to conservative treatments.

Pros of Permanent Toenail Removal

Relief from Chronic Nail Conditions

One of the primary benefits of permanent toenail removal is the relief it offers from chronic nail conditions. Conditions like onychomycosis (fungal infection) or onychocryptosis (ingrown toenails) can cause persistent discomfort, pain, and inflammation. By removing the affected nail permanently, individuals can experience long-term relief from these conditions, improving their quality of life.

Prevention of Recurrent Infections

When a toenail is prone to infections, despite regular treatment and care, permanent removal may be a viable solution. By eliminating the entire nail, the source of infection is eradicated, reducing the risk of recurrent infections. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals with compromised immune systems or diabetes, who are more susceptible to severe infections.

Improved Aesthetics

For individuals dealing with unsightly or disfigured toenails due to trauma or chronic conditions, permanent toenail removal can provide a cosmetic improvement. With the removal of the affected nail, individuals can regain confidence and feel more comfortable exposing their feet.

Cons of Permanent Toenail Removal

Permanent Nail Loss

The most significant drawback of permanent toenail removal is the irreversible loss of the nail. While this may not be a concern for individuals with chronic nail conditions, those seeking a purely aesthetic improvement should carefully consider the long-term consequences. The absence of a toenail can affect the balance and protection of the toe, potentially leading to other foot-related issues.

Potential Side Effects and Complications

Like any surgical procedure, permanent toenail removal carries a risk of side effects and complications. These can include infection, excessive bleeding, delayed wound healing, or nerve damage. It is essential to discuss these risks with a qualified healthcare professional and ensure that the benefits outweigh the potential drawbacks.

Adjustments to Foot Mechanics

Toenails serve a purpose in foot mechanics, aiding in balance, grip, and protection. Removing a toenail permanently can disrupt these mechanisms, potentially leading to altered foot function. Individuals considering this procedure should understand the potential impact on their walking and overall foot mechanics, seeking advice from a medical professional.

Psychological Impact

For some individuals, the loss of a toenail can have a psychological impact. It may affect self-esteem, and body image, or cause emotional distress. While this aspect varies from person to person, it is crucial to evaluate the potential psychological consequences before opting for permanent toenail removal.


Is permanent toenail removal painful?

The procedure is typically performed under local anesthesia, ensuring minimal pain during the surgery. However, some discomfort may be experienced during the recovery period.

How long does it take to recover from permanent toenail removal?

The recovery time can vary depending on the individual and the extent of the procedure. Generally, it takes a few weeks for the wound to heal completely.

Can the toenail grow back after permanent removal?

In most cases, the toenail will not grow back after permanent removal. The nail matrix responsible for nail growth is usually removed during the procedure.

Are there alternative treatments for chronic nail conditions?

Yes, there are alternative treatments available for chronic nail conditions, such as oral or topical medications for fungal infections or conservative treatments for ingrown toenails. It is recommended to explore these options before considering permanent toenail removal.

How can I minimize the risk of complications after permanent toenail removal?

To minimize the risk of complications, it is important to follow the post-operative instructions provided by your healthcare professional. Keep the area clean, avoid excessive pressure or trauma, and seek medical attention if you notice any signs of infection or abnormal healing.


Permanent toenail removal can be an effective solution for individuals with chronic nail conditions, recurrent infections, or cosmetic concerns. It offers relief from discomfort, prevents future infections, and improves the appearance of the affected toe. However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons carefully, considering the irreversible loss of the toenail, potential side effects, adjustments to foot mechanics, and the psychological impact it may have.