What are the complications of a phenol matrixectomy for an ingrown toenail?

A phenol matrixectomy is a minor surgical procedure done under local anaesthetic to treat ingrown toenails. The procedure involves removing the side of the nail that is ingrown and then using phenol to destroy the growing cells so that the problem side of the nail does not grow back. Generally this procedure causes no issues and the results are good.

However, like all surgical procedures a few can have problems during the healing and some do not have as good a result as expected over the long term.

Some of the short term issues include:

  1. Infection can develop in the surgical site and may need antibiotics.
  2. There may be prolonged drainage of the tissues that will need frequent wound dressing changes.
  3. Sometimes there is a phenol burn as the person was more sensitive to the phenol. This will normally heal with time and wound dressing changes.

Some of the long term issues include:

  1. Regrowth. For some reason around 1% of these ingrown nails regrow and may need to be done again or a different procedure used.
  2. Occasionally there is a poor cosmetic outcome due to damage of the growing areas of the nail during the procedure.

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