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Ingrown toenail surgery


At Mater Health Services we understand that being in hospital can be a very stressful experience. This booklet aims to alleviate some of your concerns in keeping with our Mission to offer compassionate, quality care that promotes dignity while responding to patients’ needs. It explains briefly the events that may occur during your visit and the things to expect when you are discharged from the hospital.

It is, however, only a guideline as each person may require differing treatments.

If you have any questions about your treatment please ask your doctor or nurse.

Our pastoral care team offers a caring support network to all patients. The dedicated members of this team will visit you during your stay and are available at your request to discuss any anxieties or problems that you may have.

Ingrown toenail

An ingrown toenail is a painful condition of the big toe in which the side of the nail grows into the skin, causing inflammation and/or infection.

The toenail is either removed completely or a “wedge resection” is performed.

Complete removal of the nail allows the nail bed time to heal and for a new nail to grow—regrowth can take six months.

A wedge resection involves removing the section of nail that is ingrown, as well as destroying the nail bed preventing any nail regrowth. Your nail will look narrower than it did before.

Expected length of hospital stay

The day following your surgery you will be transferred anytime from 7 am to the Transit Lounge then discharged at the pre-arranged time.

After your operation

  • You will stay in the recovery room within the theatre suite after the operation while you waken from the anaesthetic. You will be transferred on your bed to your room in the Day Procedure Unit.
  • Your nurse will take frequent observations of your vital signs (e.g. temperature, pulse, blood pressure) and wound (colour, warmth, sensation and pulses) for several hours after the surgery. As you become fully recovered, these become less frequent but remain regular until you leave hospital.
  • You will have a dressing over your wound. It may be necessary for you to have a drain in situ to remove excess fluid from the site of your operation.
  • Immediately following your surgery, you will be resting in bed.


The following exercises help prevent complications suchas chest infections and blood clots in your legs. You should do these every hour that you are awake while resting in bed.

Breathing exercises: take five long and slow deep breaths. Each breath should be deeper than the previous breath. Think about getting the air to the very bottom of your lungs.

Circulation exercises: firmly move your ankles up and down to stretch and contract your calf muscles.

  • When you feel well enough you will be assisted the first time you get out of bed. You will be instructed on how much weight-bearing you can do according to your doctor’s orders.
  • About four hours after you return to the ward, your nurse will assist you to have a wash.
  • You may have small amounts of water or ice to suck, then progress from fluids to a normal diet as tolerated.
  • If you have pain or nausea, please tell your nurse as there are medications which can be given to relieve this. It is important to be comfortable.
  • The drip (IV) is necessary to maintain your fluid intake. This will be removed when you are tolerating adequate amounts of oral fluids.

In preparation of going home

  • Your nurse will discuss your follow-up appointment and any discharge arrangements that have been made with you.
  • Discharge information will be given to you and your nurse will discuss this with you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.
  • A full assessment will be made prior to transferring you to the Transit Lounge in preparation for discharge to ascertain your condition is safe for you to go home.
  • You will be transferred to the Transit Lounge anytime from 7 am, the morning following your surgery. This is where you will wait for your transportation home. Those picking you up will find the Transit Lounge:
    • on level 4 Mater Hospital Brisbane
    • just inside the ambulance entrance
    • opposite the waiting area for the Emergency Department.
  • It is still recommended to perform deep breathing, coughing and leg exercises while you are resting in bed.
  • You will recommence your normal medications.
  • Please tell the nursing staff if you have any pain so that they may give you medication to help relieve it.

What to expect

Recovery from your toe surgery takes place in the 23 hour unit as well as in your home.

  • Keep your foot elevated and rest on the day of surgery.
  • Your toe will have a large bandage on it. This dressing is usually left on for 24 hours.
  • On average it will take six to twelve weeks for your nail to heal.

What you can do

  • Nutrition: maintain high-calorie, high-protein diet for optimal wound healing (meat, eggs, cheese, milk and soy beans).
  • Weight bear as directed by your doctor. This may be restricted for at least 24 hours depending on the extent of your operation. When resting keep the operated foot elevated above heart level.
  • Wound care: follow the instructions given to you by your doctor.
  • Medication: do not hesitate to take pain relief and discomfort is expected.
  • Wear loose-fitting shoes: or sneakers for the first two weeks after the procedure.

What to avoid

  • Wearing high healed or tight fitting shoes.
  • Running, jumping or strenuous activity for two weeks after the surgery.


Please contact either your general practitioner (GP); Mater Hospital Brisbane Procedure Unit on 07 3163 8324; or the Mater Hospital Brisbane Emergency Department on telephone 07 3163 8111, IMMEDIATELY if you experience increased pain, redness, swelling or drainage at the woundsite.

Safe use of crutches

Crutches are not usually required but if your surgeon recommends them the physiotherapist will instruct you on their use before you go home.


To stand, place your crutches forward and in a straight line leaning on your hands and un-operated leg.


Non-weight bearing: with your crutches forward, lean on your hands and hop through, taking weight through your good leg.

Partial weight bearing: your doctor will let you know when to start taking some weight through your operated leg and when to increase the weight gain.


Move backward to the chair until it can be felt by your un-operated leg. Slide the crutches out and hold them in one hand. With your other hand, hold the arm of the chair and gently sit. Place your operated leg on a stool when sitting to prevent swelling.


Never vary this sequence when using the stairs.

Going up the stairs: un-operated leg—operated leg—crutches.

Going down the stairs: crutches—operated leg—un-operated leg.

Be careful to place the crutches well apart and in the middle of the stair. Use the handrail with two crutches under one arm whenever possible.

Note: never lean or take weight through your armpits—always through your hands.

SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE IMMEDIATELY if you develop pins and needles in your hands or fingers.

Remember, if your doctor wants you to use crutches he does so for a good reason—follow his advice strictly.


Mater Hospital Brisbane

Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane Q 4101

Telephone: 07 3163 8111

South Brisbane campus


Staff of Mater Hospital Brisbane, Raymond Terrace, South Brisbane, Q 4101

© 2010 Mater Misericordiae Ltd. ACN 096 708 922.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-420022
Last modified 17/3/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 11/11/2015
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
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