Surgery for Long Toes and Short Toes

Toe deformities come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes the deformity causes no problem whatsoever, but for other patients the deformity causes embarrassment and needs correction for cosmetic purposes, or corrective surgery due to painful symptoms.
Mr Amit Amin is a Consultant Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon specialising in foot surgery operating at St George’s Hospital and at the Sports Orthopaedics Clinic in London. He says, "Surgery is usually justified". In his article titled Cosmetic Foot Surgery he goes on to explain, "Many different conditions fall under the potential umbrella of cosmetic surgery, and many people avoid seeking the help of a Surgeon as they feel that their problem does not warrant surgery. You should, however, seek the help of a Consultant Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle surgeon".

Long Toes

Deformity of the lesser toes is common and can occur in isolation or in association with big toe joint problems, such as hallux valgus (bunions).

Fig 2. Photo of bunions with lesser hammertoe deformity

Hammer toe deformity represents the most common problem, and require complex surgery due to the associated muscle and tendon imbalances. Surgical correction involves what is known as a 'fusion'. The tight structures - usually the extensor tendon - are released. Recovery times are normnally around four to five weeks.

A toe shortening procedure can also be offered for people who have toes of differing length, most commonly a long second toe which rubs in shoes.

Short Toes

A short fourth toe is known as 'brachymetatarsia'. This is a deformity that you are born with, and can range in severity. It is usually bilateral (meaning that it affects both feet). For most people it simply represents a cosmetic problem, however for others, the 4th toe sits up and rubs in shoes. Surgical correction of the problem is complex and should only be undertaken by a specialist Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeon. For treatment there are two main options.

On both sides of the body Full medical glossary
A thickened pad of tissue or a fluid-filled sac (bursa) lying over a deformed big toe. It is caused by an abnormal outward projection of the big toe. Full medical glossary
Tissue made up of cells that can contract to bring about movement. Full medical glossary