Recent articles in women's magazines and other consumer publications have touted cosmetic foot surgery. Cosmetic surgery is performed solely to change the appearance of the foot. It does not include surgery performed to provide pain relief, improve function, or enhance the quality of life during normal activities of daily living. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS) warns consumers that the risks inherent in such surgery far outweigh the benefits. Cosmetic foot surgery should not be considered in any circumstances and the Society does not condone its
All surgical procedures have inherent risks, including, but not limited to, wound problems, infection, nerve injury, recurrence of deformity, post-surgical pain, and scar formation. There are also risks associated with anesthesia. Post surgical complications could lead to an inability to walk or wear shoes comfortably. In deciding when to proceed with surgery, a patient and surgeon must consider all the risks and benefits of a procedure. When the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks, then surgical intervention may be warranted. The most substantial benefit of surgery is the reduction or elimination of pain and the improvement of function, often through the correction of deformity. Cosmetic foot surgery fails to provide pain relief, improve function, or enhance the quality of life during normal activities of daily living.
Studies have shown that many of the most prevalent forefoot deformities including bunions, hammer toes, claw toes, corns, neuromas and bunionettes are associated with the repetitive use of ill-fitting shoes. Such shoes include high heels and those that are too narrow, too small, or with a toe box shape that causes the front of the foot to be deformed to fit into the shoe. If deformities are corrected and a person resumes use of ill-fitting shoes, the deformity likely will recur.
In light of the risks associated with surgical procedures and the increased risk of recurrent deformity with the repetitive use of ill-fitting shoes, the AOFAS recommends that surgery not be performed simply to improve the appearance of the foot. Surgery should never be performed in the absence of pain, functional limitation or reduced quality of life.