Some runners go to extreme lengths for a comfortable run; they have their toenails surgically removed. While beat-up toenails are marks of distinction for the ultra-marathon runners, toenail injuries are serious business. Blistering under the nails, bruising, ingrown and lost toe nails effect the gait and cause suffering. Pain and the love of the sport are enough to motivate drastic measures.
Permanent toenail removal is not for the faint-hearted. Runners tend not to watch as they undergo the 45-minute procedure. A podiatrist anesthetizes the tip of the toe, applies a tourniquet at the base to limit bleeding, softens the tissue, trims the nail to its root and then pulls the nail out from its bed. A final swipe of carbolic acid prevents regrowth.
Normal activity, even running, can be resumed within days of the removal, although it takes weeks to fully heal. Repeat procedures may be necessary before the toenail stops growing back completely.