A Foot to Stand On

Why and What to Expect if Your Child's Podiatrist Recommends Surgery to Treat Your Child's Webbed Toes

by Grace Ortiz

If your child was born with webbed toes, your podiatrist will probably talk to you about surgical forms of treatment once your child is old enough. Surgery for webbed toes is usually done when your child is quite young so the condition doesn't interfere with your child's ability to learn how to walk. Here is some information about webbed toes and how the surgery to correct the condition is done.

Why Surgery Is Needed For Webbed Toes

Webbed toes could lead to developmental delays if your child has trouble walking due to the condition. Webbed toes might be painful, and they can be embarrassing when your child is older. Having surgery when your child is still young gives the toes time to heal while the feet and toes are still growing.

Although you may hate the thought of putting your child through surgery, not treating webbed toes could have undesirable long-term consequences. Even if your child doesn't have trouble walking, they might be teased and suffer from self-esteem issues because of the way their toes look to other kids.

If your child has a simple case that does not interfere with walking and the toe webbing isn't obvious, surgery may not be needed. Your podiatrist will advise you on whether surgery is recommended for your child's case.

How Surgery For Webbed Toes Is Done

There are different types of webbed toes. The toes might only be held together by skin, but the bones, muscles, and nerves could be involved too. There may be two or more toes fused together, and one or both feet can be affected.

The surgeon will have to consider how the condition manifests in your child and will determine the proper form of surgery. The surgery will probably be done as an inpatient under general anesthesia. Your child may need to be in the hospital for a few days for the initial recovery period.

The surgery is done by separating the skin and other tissues that are joined together so the toes are independent of each other. If more than skin is involved, the surgery will be longer and more complex to do. After the operation, your child may need to wear a cast for a few months to protect the foot and toes until they heal.

There will probably be swelling and bruising of your child's toes after the surgery, but this will clear up in time. Your child's doctor may prescribe pain medication for your child to take at home once they're released from the hospital.