Cosmetic Foot Surgery

Is Cosmetic Foot Surgery Right For You?

Cosmetic foot surgery is something not heard much about a few short years ago, but seems to be on the rise. Some orthopedic surgeons  and podiatrists promote such surgical procedures, while others have taken the position that cosmetic foot surgery often is not only unnecessary, but can be quite harmful in the long run.

Foot Face Lift - One definition of cosmetic foot surgery is that which is performed to make changes in a foot that has no underlying injury. Certainly surgery done to correct certain conditions such as painful bunions, hammertoes, and corns, is completely justified, even if somewhat cosmetic in nature. The real purpose of the surgery though is to correct a problem with a foot that needs correcting. A "foot face lift" on the other hand, suggests surgery that changes the appearance of a foot, even though there may be no underlying physical disorder.

Long Term Results Often Unpredictable - The best argument against cosmetic foot surgery is that the foot is a very complex structure consisting of bones, joints, muscle, ligaments, and tendons. It is designed to effectively carry the body's weight under a wide range of conditions. If this structure is altered, even by a tiny bit, the consequences can be very severe. In this regard, although the goal of cosmetic foot surgery may be one of more attractive feet, and the ability to fit into more stylish shoes, the risks involved are much higher than a person might think.

If one takes an ability to wear high heels as an example of why some individuals elect to have cosmetic foot surgery performed, the surgery may be successful, but the long term risks may not be acceptable or predictable. Women wearing 3 inch high heels experience nearly an 80% increase in pressure on the front of the foot. If cosmetic surgery has caused any changes in the structure of that part of the foot, the result could over time become one of intolerable pain or discomfort. Even if the surgery consists of nothing more than injecting silicon into the balls of the foot to provide some extra padding, this small change in the configuration of the foot is felt by the muscles, tendons, and joints, and the long term effect cannot always be predicted.

Evaluating the pros and cons of cosmetic foot surgery is not just an exercise in listening to opposing opinions on the matter. As the number of cosmetic foot surgeries has risen, so has the number of patients who have had the surgery done, and are experiencing complications. A large percentage of patients who have had cosmetic foot surgery, a majority in fact, now feel the surgery was not appropriate.

Think It Through - This is not to say that surgery should not be a consideration if an unsightly foot condition exists. The focus however should not be totally on removing the problem, but equally on evaluating the risk involved to the overall health of the foot. Some of the promotional material addressing cosmetic foot surgery seems to place an emphasis on the cosmetic aspect, and gives only lip service to the basic health of the foot and the risks involved ("we will be careful"). If you are strongly considering having this type of surgery performed, at the very least visit a foot surgeon who is not actively promoting cosmetic foot surgery. You want a surgeon who will carefully go over both the benefits and the risks with you, and hopefully try to convince you to at least give a second thought to what you want to do. It's far better to walk around pain free the rest of your life, than suffer getting from one place to the next on a pair of pretty feet.