Foot 4 Thought, Part Six Revised

Don't like your feet? What to do. The latest craze? Nip and Tuck. Cut and paste. Simply put, knives. While surgery is helpful in correcting certain foot claws, I mean flaws, the cutting edge, pardon the pun, is slicing and dicing for beauty.

Podiatrists and Orthopedics are not all in agreement. While most do not agree with cosmetic foot surgeries, a growing number are embracing the possibilities. Is that greed or need?

Some of these medical professionals contend that if it helps people feel less self-conscious, then it is worth the risk. One such person is Dr. Stuart Mogul, a podiatrist. Twenty percent of his patients have surgery to change the appearance of their feet.

Mogul states, My practice was traditionally, if it doesn't hurt, we are not fixing it, but I had patients that were really stressed out over aesthetic foot problems. I went ahead and repaired some and they did great. They were happy.

On the other side are surgeons like Dr. Nancy Kadel.

The danger is people are starting to view foot surgery as similar to having a pedicure, said Dr. Nancy Kadel, an orthopedic surgeon at the University of Washington Medical Center.

It's really a lot more involved. There are lots of little nerves in your foot, and surgery doesn't always turn out perfectly. Walking puts three times your body weight across your ankle and foot joints. Any little problem can really be magnified comments, It's really a lot more involved. There are lots of little nerves in your foot, and surgery doesn't always turn out perfectly.

Remember each foot has 26 bones, 30 joints, along with tendons and nerves. Talking about complex. And don't forget the vast amount of pressure the foot absorbs. No wonder the risks are higher.

The Debate?

Is it surgery reconstruction or purely cosmetic surgery? Are they the same? Some say yes. Others clearly make the distinction. One is for functionality in life. The other is for what appeals to the eye. Semantics. Semantics. Obviously, there are situations that make good health sense to opt for surgery. Bunions might be an example. Coupled with that might bring aesthetics into the equation. So you get a better looking foot. I, for one, sure wouldn't say to my surgeon, Just make sure you make my foot look uglier while you are taking care of my health issue. Why aren't we looking at common sense? At balance?

Just to Name a Few Procedures

  • Liposuction for the belly is now for the feet. Some people want slimmer ankles. Higher arches. Shapely feet.
  • Toes shortened to make the foot smaller or to shorten the second toe (by the way 1/3 of the population have a longer second toe).
  • Botox injected into the ball of the foot to relieve the pain of wearing stilettos.
  • Collagen and silicone are used as injections as well.
  • Face-lifting has now found its way into FOOT-LIFTING.

Possible Problems After Surgery

  • Deformities may develop later.
  • Botox can stop pain to the point of the person not having the sensation when they need it to protect themselves. Receptors damaged.
  • Loss of toes when blood supply is cut off.
  • Scarring. It is harder to mask a scar on the foot than other parts of the anatomy.
  • Infection.
  • Poor healing.
  • Inadvertent injury.
  • The problem recurs and or creates yet another problem.

While some surgeons are reporting that half of their patients request cosmetic surgeries, other surveys show that when asking consumers, only about 26% say they would consider such a procedure (WebMD Heath News).

The AOFAS, American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society stated that the risks of cosmetic surgery outweighed the benefits. The APMA, American Podiatric Medical Association has not taken a stand against cosmetic surgery. Basically, it sounds like the APMA's position is that with any surgery comes risk, whether cosmetic or reconstruction. I would say that would make sense. But, we can't deny the two are for vastly different reasons.

So what is it worth to have beautiful feet? And who decides what that looks like? The media? The eyes of the beholder?
I'm not trying to be an alarmist. But all too often we don't look at the cautions before we proceed. As someone once said, one in one thousand doesn't seem like a big deal, until you are that ONE.

When is Enough Enough?

Recently while taking a rehab course, the presenter shared his experience with a lady who had surgery to correct an issue caused by high heels. As soon as she rehabbed, you got it, the stilettos were back on.

What causes us to have an insatiable desire to rip into our bodies for an air-brushed look? Again, how far have we evolved in this 21st century? Are we really so different from the days of foot binding?

What do we do with self-conscious, esteem, worth issues that clearly plague certain people? I was a lay counselor for seven years, so I am sensitive to these concerns. However, I wonder how much power should we let society's standards of beauty control our lives. How I long for the day when we no longer base our self-worth as women by the size of our breasts, our shapes, our smiles, our aging bodies, and now our feet. Let freedom ring, ladies.

NEXT: Part Seven in the Foot Series

Resources: Web MD Heath News; Seattle Post-Intelligencer; New Image.com; Medical News Today; American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons 71st Annual Meeting March 11-14, 2004; 2008 ISP Course with Stott Pilates; Fix Your Feet-Dr. Philip Maffetone.

Copyright © 2008 by Ellen M. Samples. All rights reserved.