Published November 20, 2012
These days, some women will do just about anything to fit into their favorite pair of high heels – including surgery.
A growing number of women are paying thousands of dollars to surgically alter their feet just to make wearing heels a more comfortable experience.
Surgical procedures such as shortening toes, receiving foot injections and even completely cutting off pinky toes are on the rise.
“Unless you’ve been there, and you can’t find shoes, and you’re in pain, don’t judge,” said Susan Deming, a patient who recently underwent a toe-shortening procedure.
Eighty-seven percent of women have had foot problems from wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitting shoes such as high heels, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association.
Deming used to love wearing heels and sandals, until it became too painful for her to wear them for more than a few minutes.
“I was having calluses, and just, all sorts of problems with my left foot. And there finally was a solution. There’s never been a solution before,” said Deming.
A few toes on her left foot were longer than the others, making that foot an entire size larger than her right foot. The solution: A surgical procedure cutting off about a centimeter of her second toe.
Now, with a shorter toe, Deming said she can’t wait to go shoe shopping.
“I’ve never felt this good about something I’ve done,” she added. “If it’s vain, it’s vain.”
Shortening toes is just one of the many surgical procedures that can make wearing heels less painful. Others range from simply removing bunions to injecting collagen into the balls of the feet for added cushion.
“It’s as if they’re walking on pillows when they wear their high heel shoes,” says Dr. Nathan Lucas, a podiatrist in Memphis, Tenn. with 15 years of experience performing such procedures.
And for even narrower feet, Lucas said some women come into his office requesting removal of their pinky toe.
“For me, that’s a bit extreme,” said Lucas. “I wouldn’t take anyone’s toes off unless it has to come off.”
But, Lucas added, he has referred patients to doctors who will perform the removal procedure.
Lucas has seen a steady increase in the number of women interested in surgical options to help take away the pain of wearing high heels, as many as 30 patients a month in the last year.
“It’s on the rise here because the more people know about it, then of course the more they inquire about it, and they seek to get certain things done, just because they didn’t know, they didn’t know it exists,” said Lucas.
There are others in the medical field though who say that any surgery is dangerous, and that foot procedures for purely cosmetic purposes are not a good idea.
“Surgery performed solely for the purpose of improving the appearance or size of the foot or ankle carries risks without medical benefit, and therefore should not be undertaken,” according to the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.
And the American Podiatric Medical Association agreed.
"Surgical procedures of the foot and ankle are generally performed for relief of pain, restoration of function, and reconstruction of deformities. . . Patients considering surgery of the foot or ankle, whether for medical or aesthetic reasons, are advised to consult a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association," the organization said in a statement to FoxNews.com. "Podiatrists performing surgery for medical or aesthetic reasons should have appropriate training, experience, and credentials to properly perform the surgery, manage the post-operative care, and treat the possible complications."