What is toenail reconstruction?
Toenail reconstruction is a cosmetic procedure performed by a podiatrist. A specialist gel is layered on top of unsightly or misshapen nails so that the nail is more aesthetically pleasing, or (if no nail is present due to trauma or surgery) directly onto the nail bed so that a brand new nail is created.
How long will the new nail last for?
Nail reconstruction is not a permanent solution. The length of time that the nail reconstruction lasts will vary from person to person. The new nail will generally last between 4 and 6 weeks after which another nail will need to be applied.
How is toenail reconstruction different to gel nails in a salon?
Toenail reconstruction is a similar process to gel nails in the way that a gel is layered and then hardened using a UV light. However this treatment is different to gel nails carried out by beauticians in salons for the following reasons:
- The nail created under toenail reconstruction is described as a prosthetic, it is not an acrylic nail. Instead it is designed to look and feel exactly the same as a natural nail
- A specialised, flexible gel is used, whereas the gel used in salons for fingernails is hard. The specialised gel allows the toenail to move with the natural movements of the toe – this is very important as the nail will then last longer and will not ‘lift’
- The gel used has anti-fungal properties; meaning that any nails with a fungal infection will be treated whilst wearing the nail
- Nail reconstruction is performed by a trained podiatrist who can determine if toenail reconstruction is suitable for you or if another treatment option would be more appropriate
- The gel is suitable patients with diabetes and for those with no nail available
- The nail that is reconstructed will not damage the natural nail or restrict growth, allowing the natural nail to grow unaffected.
What happens during toenail reconstruction?
If you have a nail, the podiatrist will begin by reducing the nail and removing as much of the diseased nail as possible. The nail is then roughened with the file. If there is no nail available the podiatrist will begin at stage 2.
The toenail is cleaned to remove oil and disinfected. A solution containing an antifungal is applied to the nail plate/nail bed to enhance the bonding of the gel. The podiatrist will then apply the gel in layers, with each layer being hardened under a UV light. As soon as the desired look and thickness has been achieved the nail is then filed and buffed smooth. Finally, if desired, a high gloss layer can be applied.
A reconstructed toenail may be treated in exactly the same way as you would treat a normal nail, this means that if you wish to you can apply nail varnish and use a nail varnish remover.
Who is toenail reconstruction suitable for?
This treatment is suitable for:
- Damaged and thickened nails
- Patients with diabetes
- Toes with small nail tufts present after trauma or nail surgery
- Discoloured nails
- Fungal nails (see Lacuna treatment)
- Psoriatic nails
- People with no nail at all