by EBSCO Medical Review Board
(Removal, Ingrown Toenail)


This surgery removes all or part of a toenail that has curled and grown into the skin.

Ingrown Nail
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Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is done on people who are not helped by other methods. It is done to:

  • Ease swelling and pain
  • Treat infection
  • Remove a poorly shaped nail
  • Correct abnormal nail growth

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Problems with blood circulation
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
  • Whether you need a ride to and from surgery


The doctor will give a local anesthesia. The toe will be numbed.

Description of the Procedure

Tools will be used to cut the nail down towards the cuticle (bottom of the nail). All or part of the nail will be taken off. A chemical may be put on the cuticle to prevent the nail from growing back.

How Long Will It Take?

Less than 1 hour

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common in the first few days. Medicine and home care help.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

Right after the procedure, the staff may:

  • Give you pain medicine
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment to the toe
  • Place a surgical shoe on your foot
At Home

It will take four to six weeks for the toe to heal. Physical activity will be limited during this time. You may need to delay return to work for two days.

Problems to Look Out For

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, more pain, excessive bleeding, or discharge from the toe
  • Chalky white, blue, or black color of the skin of the toes or foot

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


American Diabetes Association 

Foot Health Facts—American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons 


Canadian Podiatric Medical Association 

Nurses Entrepreneurial Foot Care Association of Canada 


Ingrown toenail. Foot Health Facts—American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons website. Available at: Accessed March 17, 2021.

Ingrown toenails. Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: Accessed March 17, 2021.

Paronychia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Accessed March 17, 2021.

Shafritz AB, Coppage JM. Acute and chronic paronychia of the hand. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2014 Mar;22(3):165-174.

Revision Information