Since I’m all about helping others, I thought I’d write this to maybe help you decide on a procedure for your ingrown toenail, should you have one and need to have it removed.
Roughly 10 years ago I noticed I had an ingrown toenail problem on both of my big toes. The one on my left foot hurt more than the one on my right, so I figured I’d have it taken care of first. At that time I had insurance through my job and I had a family doctor, so naturally I went to him with the issue first.
He offered laser surgery. He explained that he would cut out the part of the nail giving me the problem and then he’d take a laser and burn the area affected by the ingrown part of the nail so that the nail would never grow back there again. That sounded fucking awesome to me, since I never wanted to deal with that pain again. So I signed up and he went to work.
I took my shoe and sock off and laid down on the table. He told me I should probably take my belt off and bite into it because it was going to hurt. I told him I wasn’t a pussy and didn’t need all that. He laughed and said I had never experienced pain before this and went ahead with the procedure.
He injected my toe with Novocaine and waited for it to set in. Then he started to cut nail. I felt every bit of it and informed him of it, so he shot me up again. This time the needle hit a nerve or something and it hurt a lot. I actually wound up feeling that shot for a few weeks until it finally healed itself. Nothing could be done about that, it just happened, but know that it could happen to you as well. However, the Novocaine worked this time around and as he was cutting the nail I didn’t feel anything.
I’m not sure if it was the removal of the nail or the laser part that hurt the most, but there was significant pain. I can only imagine how it would have hurt if I had no Novocaine at all. Turns out, I’m a pussy. That shit hurt. But I got through it, he wrapped it up and wrote me a prescription for Vicodin. He then told me to go to the pharmacy and fill the prescription before going home, as the Novocaine would wear off in 15 minutes or so and I’d start to feel the pain.
I went to the pharmacy and put in the prescription. As I sat there waiting for it to be filled, the Novocaine started wearing off and the pain came in a tidal wave of horror. I made it home and took my first Vicodin. By the way, he prescribed me 6 pills. I quickly found out that Vicodin doesn’t work for me. A buddy of mine happened to stop by that day to keep me company, since I couldn’t walk after the pain set in, and in the hour or two he was there he saw me pop every Vicodin with no comfort from the pain at all. I wound up taking several Advil on top of the Vicodin and eventually I got a little bit of relief from the pain, but not much. Later, alcohol and weed helped me to not care that I hurt, but nothing killed the pain. There’s tip number 2 for you: be prepared for a shit-ton of pain.
After a week or so the pain finally went away completely, and I was able to live life without pain in my toe for the first time in a long time. No ingrown nail, just smooth sailing. Before I could get the one done on my right big toe, I lost that job and my insurance and to this day still have the ingrown nail. Which is fine with me, because had I known then what I know now, I would have never had the laser procedure done at all. Here’s why.
Over time the nail on my left big toe has warped. You see, the laser burned the area where the ingrown part grew so that it couldn’t grow there anymore. That, however, didn’t keep the nail from growing. Without being able to grow where it normally, and naturally did, it continued to grow just to the side of the burned area. Over the last 10 years it grew warped and now it isn’t just warped but it hurts. Worse than the ingrown nail did. A lot worse.
My toe throbs now all the time. Just the pressure of having a sock over that nail is enough to keep me in pain until the sock is removed. Wearing shoes sucks. Standing sucks. Having this toe sucks. I never realized just how much I kick things accidentally while walking until recently. You see, only in the last 6 months or so has it actually started hurting.
I attribute the pain to the nail growing more in a dome shape than the natural flat way and squeezing the sensitive area of skin underneath it to the point of pain. There’s no discoloration of the toe but the nail is now yellow, so to look at it, it doesn’t look like it hurts or is even misshapen unless you give it a quick side-by-side comparison to the nail on my right toe…
Because it’s growing up into a folded dome shape, it also makes it extremely hard to trim, so when it grows out from the toe as nails do, it rubs more on the inside of my shoes and bumps harder against stuff when I’m walking. I’m always in pain and I don’t know what can be done for it, especially since I no longer have insurance, or a doctor, or even money. I’m pretty much left with the pain and a fucked up toenail.
The above picture is looking straight at the nail, obviously. It’s solid, as it has grown together, making it near impossible to trim.
The nail on my right foot’s big toe is ingrown and hurts, but nowhere near the pain of the left nail, so I hardly notice it. And I don’t care that it hurts, because now I know to just deal with the pain and not get laser surgery on it, too.
UPDATE: Before I posted this I trimmed up the messed up nail a lot and discovered that the ingrown side is no longer ingrown, as I’ve said, but it has pushed the nail toward the other side and now it is ingrown on that side. When I trimmed the nail I clipped off the ingrown part myself and after the initial pain went away, my toe has been basically painless. The nail is still yellow and growing goofy, but it doesn’t hurt anymore, which is fucking amazing at this point. Still though, be warned. This procedure could screw up and do to you what it did to me.