Chia Doc – Amputating Healthy Toes: Reasonable Cosmetic Surgery or Not?

This week’s Ask Chia Doc is a little different.  If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen a post earlier this week that generated a lot of conversation on both my personal and professional pages.

Dr. Gideon J. Lewis

What do you think?  Is it ethical to amputate two perfectly healthy toes?  The overwhelming majority of people commenting on my pages said no.  This became such a hot topic I was invited onto radio show Monsters in the Mornings to discuss the trend of cosmetic foot and ankle surgery.

And yes, this is absolutely a trend.  According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2012 Statistics Report , 14.6 million cosmetic procedures were performed in 2012.  That’s a 5% jump from the previous year.   And get this, of those surgeries, 436 were calf augmentations.  Yes, “Cankle” surgery!  This number only represents the total number performed by plastic surgeons and does not include those performed by other types of physicians like me, a double board certified foot and ankle surgeon.

So many people I’ve spoken to are shocked by my patient’s request.  However, if you spent a week with me, you’d be less surprised.  I treat such a wide variety of medical conditions and field so many requests daily.  This is not the first time a patients has asked for a radical procedure based on cosmetic reasons.

Foot healthThe big question.  Will I do the surgery?

As a medical professional, it is my duty to treat every patient as an individual and focus on their specific needs.   I treat each patient as a whole and must take every single factor into consideration.  As I mentioned earlier, this is not the first time I’ve encountered such a request.  However it is important that due diligence is taken to thoroughly weigh the risks

The Chia Doc

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