How is Fingernail Removal Surgery Performed?

Fingernail Removal Surgery


Fingernail removal surgery, also known as onychectomy, is a medical procedure performed to remove either a portion or the entire fingernail. This surgery may be necessary in cases of severe infection, trauma, or other medical conditions affecting the nail. This article will delve into the details of how fingernail removal surgery is performed, its various techniques, and what to expect during the recovery process.

When is Fingernail Removal Surgery Necessary?

Fingernail removal surgery is typically considered when alternative treatments, such as antibiotics or topical medications, have failed to resolve the underlying issue. Common reasons for fingernail removal surgery include:

  1. Chronic Infections: If a fingernail becomes chronically infected, it can lead to pain, pus formation, and severe discomfort.
  2. Ingrown Nails: Ingrown nails occur when the nail grows into the surrounding skin, causing pain, inflammation, and infection.
  3. Trauma: Severe trauma to the nail, such as crushing injuries or avulsions, may necessitate nail removal to prevent complications.
  4. Recurrent Fungal Infections: Fungal infections that repeatedly affect the nail bed and are unresponsive to treatment may require removal.
  5. Tumors or Cysts: In rare cases, the presence of tumors or cysts under the nail may necessitate removal to allow for proper examination and treatment.

Preparation for Fingernail Removal Surgery:

Before the surgery, your healthcare provider will conduct a thorough examination of the affected nail and surrounding tissues. They will review your medical history and discuss the procedure with you. In some cases, X-rays or other imaging tests may be performed to assess the extent of the condition.

Patients should inform their healthcare provider of any allergies, medications, or underlying health conditions. It’s essential to follow pre-surgical instructions, which may include fasting before the procedure and refraining from blood-thinning medications.

Fingernail Removal Surgery Techniques:

Fingernail removal surgery can be performed using various techniques, depending on the severity of the condition and the preference of the healthcare provider. The three most common techniques are:

4.1. Partial Nail Removal (Matricectomy): In this technique, a portion of the nail or the nail matrix (the tissue responsible for nail growth) is removed while preserving the remaining nail. It is often used in cases of ingrown nails or chronic infections.

4.2. Total Nail Removal (Avulsion): Total nail removal involves the complete removal of the nail, including the nail matrix. This technique is used when the entire nail is affected by a severe infection, trauma, or other medical conditions.

4.3. Laser Nail Removal: Laser therapy is a less invasive option for removing a portion or the entire nail. It is typically used for treating fungal infections and minimizing pain and bleeding during the procedure.

The Fingernail Removal Procedure:

The specific steps of the fingernail removal procedure may vary depending on the chosen technique. However, in general, the procedure involves the following steps:

  1. Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is administered to numb the affected finger and surrounding tissue, ensuring the patient’s comfort during the surgery.
  2. Nail Removal: The surgeon carefully removes the nail, following the chosen technique (partial, total, or laser). Any infected or damaged tissue is also removed.
  3. Wound Care: The surgical site is cleaned and dressed, and in some cases, antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection.

Recovery After Fingernail Removal:

The recovery process following fingernail removal surgery typically involves the following:

  1. Pain Management: Over-the-counter or prescription pain medication may be recommended to manage discomfort.
  2. Dressing Changes: Patients may need to change the wound dressing regularly and keep the area clean to prevent infection.
  3. Limited Activity: Rest and limited use of the hand are usually advised for a few days to allow for proper healing.
  4. Follow-Up: Patients should schedule follow-up appointments with their healthcare provider to monitor the healing process and address any concerns.

Risks and Complications:

While fingernail removal surgery is generally safe, there are some risks and potential complications, including:

  • Infection at the surgical site
  • Persistent pain or numbness
  • Abnormal nail regrowth
  • Scarring
  • Allergic reactions to anesthesia or medications


Fingernail removal surgery is a medical procedure performed to address severe nail conditions, infections, or trauma. The technique used depends on the specific condition and the patient’s needs. While the surgery is generally safe, it’s crucial to follow post-operative care instructions and attend follow-up appointments to ensure proper healing. Patients should discuss their options and concerns with their healthcare provider to make informed decisions regarding fingernail removal surgery.

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