Cosmetic toe shortening surgery

Updated February 21, 2017

For years, men and women alike have undergone cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, face lifts and tummy tucks. As of 2010, a new cosmetic surgery trend is arising--"foot lifts." This sometimes involves shortening one or more toes on the foot. These toe-shortening procedures give attention to an often-neglected area of the body while reducing pain and increasing aesthetic appeal.

The Procedure

Toe-shortening surgery is a cosmetic procedure designed to reduce the length of the toes on the feet. Doctors achieve the shortening by removing small amounts of bone from one or more of the toe joints. After the shortening, the surgeon places pins in the toe to let the toe heel in the proper position. The last step involves restructuring the skin to accommodate the new toe length.

Procedure Length and The Cosmetic Foot Surgery Clinic both indicate that toe shortening is a relatively quick surgery. Each toe takes about 15 to 25 minutes to complete. Patients can opt to do the surgery either as inpatient or outpatient and, based on that decision, may select either local or general anaesthesia.

Healing Time claims that toe-shortening surgery requires two to three months of healing time. The Cosmetic Foot Surgery Clinic, however, places recovery time slightly longer at three to four months. This of course is dependent on multiple factors, including patient health and activity level.


Toe-shortening surgery carries risks such as infection, corns, pain while walking, and nerve injury, according to The Cosmetic Foot Surgery Clinic also points out that the surgery may result in some loss of flexibility in the toe that the doctor shortens.


Despite the complications that toe surgery has, people still opt for the surgery primarily for medical reasons. For some individuals, the length of the toe directly affects how footwear, walking, jumping and running feel, as a longer toe may cause weight to distribute in a specific way that isn't conducive to the health of the joints of the foot.

Some people have toe-shortening surgery for purely cosmetic reasons. In these cases, the person who goes under the knife either doesn't like how her feet look or wants to be able to wear shoes she can't wear with her long toes. Performing toe-shortening surgery for this purpose is controversial, as pointed out by, because some doctors believe the risks are not worth the aesthetic improvements. Doctors willing to do purely cosmetic toe shortening generally want multiple consultations with patients so that the patients are fully aware of possible complications.

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About the Author

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website,, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.