ROSEMONT, IL--(Marketwire - June 23, 2010) -  Summer is here and so is sandal season. If a toe tuck, toe shortening surgery, or a foot facelift (to change the appearance of your feet) sound tempting, think again warns the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS). No surgery should be performed for the sake of appearance to a foot that is functioning well and is not in pain. The AOFAS warns consumers that the risks inherent in such surgery far outweigh the benefits. According to the official AOFAS Position Statement on Cosmetic Foot Surgery, "Cosmetic foot surgery should not be considered in any circumstances and the Society does not condone its practice."

Cosmetic foot surgery includes manipulating or changing a foot that is functioning properly. Popular cosmetic foot surgeries include: foot narrowing in order to fit more comfortably in trendy high heel shoes; toe shortening procedure, typically on second toe (next to the big toe) for greater perceived appearance when wearing open toe shoes; or a toe tuck where the little toe is made skinnier and shorter to accommodate high heel shoes.

Cosmetic foot surgery differs significantly from orthopaedic reconstructive foot surgery which is necessary to provide pain relief, improve function, or enhance the quality of life during normal activities of daily living. Common reconstructive foot surgery performed by orthopaedic surgeons includes correction of painful bunions (Hallux Valgus), hammertoes, flat foot deformities, cavus foot and lesser toe deformities. The mechanics of your foot are extremely complex. Bearing the weight of the entire body, the foot is under tremendous stress. Each foot contains 26 major bones and 30 joints, along with tendons, nerves and skin that all interact to allow you to walk or run without pain. Altering the function of the foot to fit into a trendy shoe or to look finer in summer sandals according to the AOFAS is ill-advised.

Donald R. Bohay, MD, an AOFAS active member from Grand Rapids, Michigan, adds, "Orthopaedic foot or ankle surgical procedures are designed to relieve pain and restore form and function. It is against the patient's best interest to expand the surgical indication to include cosmesis."

The position statement reveals, "All surgical procedures contain risks including, but not limited to, wound problems, infections, nerve injury, recurrence of deformity, post-surgical pain, and scar formation. There are also risks associated with anesthesia. Post surgical complications could lead to an inability to walk or wear shoes comfortably. In deciding when to proceed with surgery, a patient and surgeon must consider all the risks and benefits of a procedure. When the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks, then surgical intervention may be warranted. The most substantial benefit of surgery is the reduction or elimination of pain and the improvement of function, often through the correction of deformity. Cosmetic foot surgery fails to provide pain relief, improve function, or enhance the quality of life during normal activities of daily living."

For a copy of the AOFAS Position Statement on Cosmetic Foot Surgery, go to the AOFAS website, and click on news center, health policy issues & position statements. The site also features a surgeon referral service that makes it easy for patients to find a local orthopaedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle care.

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society is a professional society of more than 1,800 orthopaedic surgeons specializing in diagnosis, care and treatment of patients with disorders of the musculoskeletal system of the foot and ankle. 

About the AOFAS
The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. It creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government, industry and the national and international health care community.

About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis, care, and treatment of patients with disorders of the musculoskeletal system of the foot and ankle. This includes the bones, joints, ligaments, muscles tendons, nerves, and skin. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical, and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. They perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle.

Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons work with physicians of many other specialties, including internal medicine, pediatrics, vascular surgery, endocrinology, radiology, anesthesiology, and others. Medical school curriculum and post-graduate training provides the solid clinical background necessary to recognize medical problems, admit patients to a hospital when necessary, and contribute significantly to the coordination of care appropriate for each patient.

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Peggy Reilly