Cinderella Surgery: Someday My Shoes Will Fit …

shutterstock_63357409If the shoe fits, wear it. But what if it doesn’t? For some, cosmetic foot surgery—also known as “Cinderella surgery”—is the solution.

Gaining in popularity, these surgeries are requested by those, mainly women, looking to surgically fit into fashionable shoes such as narrow-toed high heels. The patients desire toe shortenings or slimmings—and in the most extreme cases, even removal of the baby toe—just to fit into their shoes. Some ask for collagen injections into the balls of their feet, which provide added padding for comfort when wearing high heels.

Women also seek “foot beautification” surgery to make their feet more aesthetically pleasing. Toes are sculpted and toenails narrowed.

So is it worth it?

In a word, “no.”

“The risks of cosmetic foot surgery far outweigh any benefits,” said Steven L. Haddad, MD, president of the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS). “​We discourage patients with normal, fully functioning feet from trying to change their feet to fit a specific style of shoe. The shoe should fit the foot, not the other way around.”

The list of possible complications and risks is long. According to AOFAS, risks include those that come with any surgical procedure, including infections and anesthesia issues. After surgery, there are possible complications such as permanent nerve damage, scarring, and chronic foot pain. In the end, the procedures can actually lead to new foot issues, such as pain while walking.

“Your feet carry your full weight day in and day out, balancing you on 26 bones in each foot, 33 joints in each foot and ankle, and many nerves and blood vessels,” stated AOFAS in a press release. “You need every one of your foot bones to maintain your balance, walk, and run. Cutting into a foot that does not need surgery is a serious and potentially dangerous undertaking.”

Medically necessary

Foot surgery may be recommended for certain medical conditions—for example, when someone is suffering from painful bunions or hammertoes and when more comfortable shoes are not helping the pain. However, before agreeing to any foot surgery, you should seek the advice and services of a licensed, experienced podiatrist. Contact DCA’s Board of Podiatric Medicine ( to find a qualified podiatrist, to check license history and status, and to see if there are any disclosures of enforcement actions.

But when it comes to surgeries just to fit into high-fashion shoes or to beautify your feet, just step away.


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