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Willets Procedure


What is Willets procedure?

An ingrown toe nail occurs when the nail edge is damaged, usually affecting the big toe. The nail edge grows in to and irritates the skin at the nail fold. This can then become infected. The nail fold can be very painful, smelly and in severe cases there can be a discharge of pus.

How long will it take?

Most Willets procedures take about 45 to 60 minutes. This includes the anaesthetic, the operation and the time spent in the recovery room. Your child will be  required to stay in the day unit for approximately two hours following surgery.

When can my child eat and drink again?

If your child is awake on return to the ward, they can have clear fluids and a light diet.

Care following the procedure

Pain relief

  • Keep foot elevated to alleviate pain for days following the procedure.
  • Have some paracetamol at home. It can be given as per the instructions on the product packaging for the first three to five days after the operation to relieve discomfort.
  • Give other pain relief medicine if advised.
  • Do not give aspirin.

Diet and fluids

Your child may eat and drink normally.

Nausea and vomiting

It is not uncommon for children to vomit on the night of the operation. If your child is vomiting, give sips of clear fluids, try a piece of dry toast or a cracker biscuit and increase the amounts as tolerated until the vomiting settles. If vomiting continues after 24 hours seek medical advice.

Wound care and dressing

  • Keep foot elevated for days to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Keep the dressing dry and intact for days or until the wound is reviewed at your clinic appointment or GP.


No bath or showering for 24 hours. Do not allow the dressings to become wet. When showering or bathing, cover the foot with a plastic bag sealed with sticky tape to stop the water getting in.

Do not go swimming.

Points to remember

  • When walking/standing, weight should be focused on the heel of the affected foot.
  • Return to school/work in a few days as able.
  • Avoid vigorous activities such as running for two weeks.
  • Wear an open toe shoe, such as a sandal or loose fitting shoes or sneakers for two weeks to alleviate any pressure on the area.
  • Return to the closest hospital that treats children or call your doctor if you note any increasing pain, swelling, redness, discharge, increasing temperatures or bleeding.

Follow up visit

You will be asked to return to the GP for a wound check/dressing change or a follow up appointment will be made for your child which will be either posted to you at home or given to you prior to discharge. This appointment is usually one or two weeks after the operation.

Emergency contact

To ensure your child receives the best possible care in an emergency, you should call 000 or go to your closest hospital that treats children. If you have any concerns or questions please contact your doctor.

Contact Mater Children’s Private Brisbane

Salmon Building,

Raymond Terrace,

South Brisbane QLD 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111


Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-470035
Last modified 09/8/2017.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 28/6/2015
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