COSMETIC FOOT, ANKLE PROCEDURES ON THE RISE.

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Foot and ankle orthopedic surgeons report that cosmetic surgery to enhance the visual appearance of lower extremities or to alter the shape of the foot to fit into specialized footwear is growing in popularity. However, they warn that these elective procedures come with risks and are not recommended for people with pain-free, functioning feet.

Commonly requested procedures include liposuction, toe straightening or shortening, fat-pad injections, and forefoot contouring. When performed for cosmetic reasons alone, these procedures unnecessarily put patients at risk for infection, nerve damage, chronic pain, and other complications.

'While reconstructive procedures address problems that cause pain and disability, cosmetic foot surgery deals with perception of style and beauty," explains J. Chris Coetzee, foot and ankle surgeon with Twin Cities Orthopedics, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn. "One should always bear in mind that once the procedure is done, it is irreversible."

Patients also may seek cosmetic foot surgery for hammertoes and bunions. A hammertoe is a deformity that adds an abnormal bend in the middle joint of the second, third, or fourth toe causing it to resemble a hammer. A bunion occurs when the joint of your big toe swells and sticks out, which could be caused by...

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