The Gears Of War Guide to Ingrown Toenail Removal
Ask a gamer to name a bloody, gruesome game and he will likely say Gears Of War. Ask a podiatrist to describe a bloody, gruesome surgery and your answer may well be the Vandenbos Procedure for ingrown toenails. Intrigued yet?
When surgery is recommended for ingrown toenail treatment, generally the podiatrist is talking about a partial or full toenail removal. This is not the case if your doctor happens to be Canadian physician Dr. Henry Chapeskie. Chapeskie routinely performs the controversial, but purportedly effective, Vandenbos Procedure.
The theory behind the Vandenbos Procedure (first described in 1959 in the US Armed Forces Medical Journal) is that “ingrowing toenails” are actually a result of over-growing toe skin. Where traditional surgery removes part or all of the affected nail, this procedure removes what is considered excess skin surrounding the nail, leaving the nail intact.
Chapeskie describes the procedure of removing the skin surrounding the toenail: “start the incision at the nail base, cutting out towards the side and then up to the tip of the toe. The incision must be generous…” He goes on, “Occasionally, the lateral aspect of the distal phalanx may be exposed…there have been no known cases of osteomyelitis.” For those of us who aren’t doctors, the “distal phalanx” that may be exposed is the bone and osteomyelitis is an infection of the bone. For a complete photo slide show of the surgery, click here.
Proponents of Vandenbos cite very low recurrence of ingrown toenail and favorable cosmetic outcomes. Critics raise concern about risk for infection due to the surgery leaving open wounds, (and potentially bare bone) to heal on their own and describe the surgery as unnecessarily traumatic.
If you are reeling at the idea of this procedure, no worries…there are MANY other viable options for treating your ingrown toenail with less blood, risk, and recovery time. If you are excited and ready to schedule your Vandenbos Procedure right away, well, not so fast. Is it effective? Maybe. Is it readily available? Only through a few surgeons, namely those trained by Chapeskie.