Foot surgery can provide many benefits including pain relief, improved shoe fitting, improved function and yes, improved appearance. But what if the only concern is improving the appearance of the foot? Although the complication rate of foot surgery is generally low, any surgical procedure entails elements of risk. Complications such as infections, poor scarring, persistent swelling, joint stiffness and recurrence of deformity can occur. Cosmetic procedures are commonly performed on other parts of the body. Why should the feet be any different? In a recent position statement the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society recommended against foot and ankle surgery for purely cosmetic reasons, citing a lack of medical evidence supporting the practice. I tend to agree with this position. I advise patients seeking cosmetic foot procedures to consider all conservative options first. Informing patients of the risks as well as the benefits of any medical treatment is essential to effective care. The risk discussion is particularly important when cosmetic procedures are being considered. Cosmetic surgery patients must be explicitly aware that if a complication arises, they could be left with pain or impaired function where there wasn’t before. Given careful consideration and under the right circumstances, I will perform corrective foot surgery with cosmetic improvement as the primary goal. If you have a foot condition that you don’t like the look of or may be causing embarrassment, come see me for a discussion of the options available.
What is it and how do we manage it?
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