Cosmetic foot surgery is podiatric surgery that can be used to improve the aesthetic appearance of feet, or to prevent foot problems, such as bunions and corns, from appearing in the future. Cosmetic foot surgery remains controversial, as many experts are often quick to point out that podiatric surgery carries a number of risks and should be undertaken only in cases of extreme need. Foot surgery for cosmetic purposes is, nevertheless, growing in popularity, and many surgeons who perform cosmetic foot surgery claim that their procedures can prevent disorders such as bunions, corns, and hammertoes before they begin. Proponents of elective foot surgery believe that it improves the aesthetic appearance of feet, and can make stylish shoes, which are often narrow or high-heeled, more comfortable and less damaging to the structures of the foot.
Many of the cosmetic procedures used on the feet are the same procedures commonly used to treat foot problems such as bunions, corns, hammertoes, and short toes. Traditional podiatric procedures, such as bunion or corn removal surgery, can serve a medical purpose while retaining cosmetic appeal. Many podiatrists are now performing cosmetic procedures to correct medical problems in the foot, simply by making incisions in more discreet locations and using plastic surgery techniques to minimize scarring. While these procedures are not strictly cosmetic in nature, they can treat foot problems without leaving large, obvious scars.
Cosmetic foot surgery, however, is often performed for purely aesthetic reasons. Women and men may have their feet narrowed to fit into more stylish shoes. Toes may be shortened to keep them from hanging over the edges of sandals and other open-toed shoes, or lengthened for a more graceful appearance in those with naturally short toes. Toe slimming and toe straightening can be used to improve the aesthetic appearance of toes. Foot padding, in which fat or another filler is injected into the ball of the foot, is often used to make standing in high-heeled shoes more comfortable.
Advocates of cosmetic foot surgery claim that these procedures can make the foot more suited to the narrow or high-heeled shoes that many, particularly women, wear on a daily basis. They point out that, for many professionals, stylish footwear is an essential part of the workplace attire. Proponents argue that cosmetic procedures should be undertaken on a preventative basis, to make high-heeled or narrow footwear safer for feet, and stave off the problems that can occur in those who wear narrow or high-heeled shoes daily on a long-term basis.
Other experts, however, point out that the foot is a complex structure composed of dozens of bones, ligaments, and joints. Foot surgery is often delicate and does not always have a high success rate. Many physicians warn that cosmetic foot procedures can lead to painful, difficult-to-treat complications in the long run.