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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 into 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, operation and time spent in the recovery room. Your child will need 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 as instructed by your child's doctor.
  • Have a supply of paracetamol at home. It can be given as per the instructions on the packaging for the first three to five days after the operation to relieve pain or discomfort.
  • Give other pain relief medicine only 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 their foot elevated to reduce swelling and pain as instructed by your child's doctor.
  • Keep the dressing dry and intact as instructed by your child's doctor or until the wound is reviewed at your clinic appointment with your Surgeon or GP.
  • Use orthopaedic shoes if advised; do not use closed in shoes.


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 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 your 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 nearest Emergency Department. 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 28/4/2020.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 28/6/2015
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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