What: This blog is information on phenol toenail ablation (chemical matricectomy with phenol) from medical resources and my personal experience. I had my right big toenail permanently removed with phenol ablation a year prior; these posts are about the remaining 9 toenails I had permanently removed.
Why: The reason I'm posting this is because I had trouble finding information on what to expect for surgery, pain, recovery time (8+ weeks), bandaging, and how to deal with walking. Also, for those considering permanent toenail removal I wanted to share my positive experience and say how great this life-changing procedure was.
Who: I am a medical resident who spends a significant amount of time on my feet. My toenail problems began when I started working on-call shifts during medical school. These shifts can last up to 30-hours and most of the time I am on my feet. I had my right big toenail removed during medical school after visiting a podiatrist for an infected ingrown. When the ingrown toenails kept recurring on different toes and I realized I could not do my job without being on my feet all the time, the decision was made with my podiatrist to remove all my toenails permanently with phenol ablation. I have absolutely no regrets.
Surgery: Done at a surgical center under sedation with local anesthetic, hobbled out pain-free shortly after.
Pain: "Bad" pain Days 0 - 1, "Mild" pain Days 2 - 7, "Bad" pain Days 8 - 12, "Horrendous" pain Days 13 - 20, Improved after.
Bandaging: Gauze + Band-Aids work great, Open Air (no bandages but moist wound) whenever reasonable, Band-Aids alone during first week was a really bad idea.
Walking: Open-toe surgical boots were perfect, loose fitting tennis shoes possible if toes properly bandaged, normal work/dress shoes nearly impossible until Day 24.
Drainage: Lots of drainage Days 0 - 14, Mild drainage Days 15 - 24 (socks only mildly wet), Improved after.
Healing: Able to walk normally without shuffling on Day 24, Wounds looked great around Day 24 and were level with surrounding toe, Improved after.
Single Toenail Removal: As a side note, the experience was much different when I had a single big toenail removed. The draining was easier to manage and the pain wasn't bad. I was able to wear normal shoes as well, which is something I could not do for the first three weeks after having the remaining 9 toenails removed. The worst part of having the single toenail removed was the local anesthetic at the podiatrist's office.