Women covet shoes more than any other essential accessory. However, unlike all other adornments including handbags, footwear is a necessity for trotting to work, play and run errands on even the most unchartered terrains in order to avoid foot injuries and pesty diseases. Like handbags, shoes have evolved from being completely functional to stylish status symbol and, at times, unreasonable and needless foot attire. The desire to lavishly ornament one’s feet, begets the trend that socially accepts the practice to grin and bear the pain, regardless of the consequences: agonizing foot bunions, toe corns and hammertoes that come with donning ill-fitting footwear. In recent times, stories have emerged regarding, what seems like, supererogatory foot-surgery procedures for the pleasure to indulge in enrobing the foot in perfect pair of pumps. However, after reading between the lines of many stories that detail what appears to be ridiculous cosmetic foot procedures, the ultimate conclusion reveals that most women who have foot surgery to fit into their shoes are no different that than someone getting a nose job to breathe easier and relieve sinus headaches, extracting wisdom teeth to avoid tooth crowding and gum pain, or even having a circumcision to decrease infection and improve sexual sensation! In fact, the stories fabricated about women having foot surgery to simply fit into heels are at best skewed but moreover exaggerated to capture the attention of the reader.
Toe shortening is a common procedure sought after by women who almost never even wear heels. An extremely long second toe is medically known as Morton’s toe. Having an extremely long toe can lead to bending of the toe, which in turn can cause the toe to become permanently contracted. When the toe is continually cramped in what may even be considered a reasonable shoe, it can riddle feet with aching toe corns or blisters and, ultimately, render the toe permanently deformed, disallowing one to fit comfortably in sensible shoes. Correcting toe corns and fixing hammertoes, requires removing a small section of bone. If someone suffers from Morton’s toe the foot surgeon naturally removes a long piece of bone to ensure that the Morton’s toe problem does not recur.
On the other hand, brachymetatarsia is an anomaly where the toe appears unusually short. Brachymetatarsia can also cause pain and limit one’s footwear selections. This most commonly occurs on the fourth toe. However, it is not the toe that’s short: it’s the long bone connected to the toe that has early arrested development. Just as toes can be shortened, likewise toes can lengthened by either growing the bone called callus distraction and by using a bone graft implant.
The bad news about bringing on the bunions? A foot bunion is a bony deformity of the big toe where the end of the big toe is deviated towards the second toe and the bone below adjacent to the top of the big toe is angled towards the inner part of the foot. Again, even in practical shoes, foot bunions can be excruciating. Additionally, a shoe’s natural lifetime will be shortened due the wear and tear from the foot bunion. By correcting the bunion, the patient not only gains relief of pain, but can fit into shoes properly increasing the overall lifespan of the shoe.
Last but not least, pain can also wiggle its way to the more delicate pinky toe and elicit discomfort equal to or greater than big-toe trauma. The UK’s Daily Mail recently authored an article titled: “Off with her Pinky!’’ In this toe tale, it described how women are obsessed with removing their toes via ‘stiletto surgery’ for a comfier fit in their high heels. Interestingly, the article does not feature the patient that elected to amputate their fairly good toe to fit into the heel, nor does it spotlight any specific surgeon who performs such a procedure for frivolous reasons. Instead, it references a foot surgeon who claims to know a specialist to whom they can refer their patients interested in lopping off their pinky toe! This Daily Mail allegation reads more like an urban legend rather than foot fact. A more realistic remedy: Hammertoe surgery can relieve pinky toe pain without completely removing the toe, allowing the patient to maintain balance and a normal, appetizing-looking foot. Please be advised: amputation, should only be reserved in order to spare the life of the patient.
In modern societies, coveting and acquiring footwear in all its sumptuous styles is considered a rites of passage to womanhood. However, foot-surgical repair should only be considered after conservative therapy is exhausted, including modifying shoe types. Anyone contemplating foot-surgical procedures should take heed and remember: the surgery in question should always be with the intent to maintain or improve foot function and alleviate chronic foot pain.