Looking Good from Head to Toe: Feet and Toe Plastic Surgery on the Rise

Take "looking good from head to toe" to a whole new level with one of the newest crazes in plastic surgery — beautifying your feet.

Toes and feet have become a new focus in plastic surgery, as some patients seek to alter the looks (or even the function) of their toes in order to make their feet look better in or out of shoes.

Types of Toe Plastic Surgery

There’s more than one way to fix up your foot, but all of these procedures achieve one of two main goals — they improve your confidence by improving the look of your feet (making you more confident in those flip-flops or open-toed sandals), or they make it easier and pain-free to wear the high-fashion, ultra high-heeled shoes you love. Here are some of the latest toe-related treatments available.

Toe Liposuction. “Some people want their toes defatted a little bit and made to look a little slimmer,” says Lori Cherup, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon with Radiance Plastic Surgery in Pittsburgh, PA. But it’s not only a quick fix for what some have dubbed "tobesity" — toe liposuction can slim down your toes enough that it will help you fit your feet into those Louboutins. (Cinderella’s stepsisters should have considered this when they were trying on the glass slipper.)

Toe Shortening. Some people have a second toe that juts out beyond the first, a look they consider unattractive. This surgery looks to shorten the toe and bring it into line with the others. “If the goal is to make your body and your feet have a certain look, having a second toe that sticks out that may be concerning enough that you’ll want to make it look different,” says Alan Engler, MD, FACS, a board-certified plastic surgeon in New York City. “A larger second toe is something that you can camouflage, but some people are willing to undergo surgery to achieve that desired look.”

Toe Lengthening. Too-short toes can be lengthened to bring them more in line with the rest of the toes.

Toe Removal. Consider this the ultimate sacrifice for fashion: Some patients are seeking to have a toe (usually the pinky) removed to allow their feet to fit more comfortably in fashionable pointy-toed shoes.

Foot Botox. Botox injections have been used to minimize sweating on the feet, and it can also be an effective treatment for hammertoes, a condition that causes toes to be bent permanently into a hammer-like shape.

Foot Fillers. Patients can have fillers like Sculptra or even their own fat injected into their feet to help make wearing those ultra high-heeled shoes a lot less painful.

Toe Tuck. A toe (most commonly, the pinky toe) can be surgically slimmed down.

Concerns About Toe Plastic Surgery

While all plastic surgeries carry risks, some experts believe that the risks of toe plastic surgery far outweigh any benefits — even if the benefit is a better fitting (and less painful) pair of Manolo Blahniks. In fact, the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society has come out against the practice of cosmetic surgery for toes and feet. “You want to choose treatments that are safe and surgically sound,” says Dr. Engler. “Not all procedures have the same risk, and you want to choose the ones that have the maximum benefit with least amount of problems.”

In addition to the usual plastic surgery complications, such as infection and scarring, the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society cited concerns about nerve damage or pain while walking as reasons to avoid having foot or toe plastic surgery for anything other than reconstruction.

And since toe plastic surgery is a relatively new phenomenon, you may have trouble finding a plastic surgeon who has the expertise to take on your toes. “There aren’t many plastic surgeons out there who are doing this,” says Dr. Cherup. “I would refer them to an orthopedic surgeon or podiatrist.” In fact, the American Podiatric Medical Association’s statement about toe cosmetic surgery recommends that foot surgery should be undertaken chiefly to alleviate pain or remove deformities — and that any cosmetic reasons you have for tweaking your toes should be secondary. They also recommend choosing a podiatrist to perform any foot treatments, as they’ll have the expertise necessary to perform the surgery and minimize the chances of complications.

But there is one more thing you should keep in mind before you decide to slim down your toes the surgical way: Unless there’s an underlying medical condition (such as treating hammertoes or corns), these surgeries will be completely elective — and you will be footing the whole bill.


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