“I don’t think it’s ethical unless you’re having pain,” said Dr. Hillary Brenner, a podiatric surgeon in New York and a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association.
“You’re undergoing risks—there’s the risk of anesthesia, infection, deformity of the toe if the surgery is not done right, a risk of reoccurrence and the risk of surgery in general, “ Brenner said. “It’s trauma to the foot.”
The American Podiatric Medical Association reports that most surgical procedures are performed for medical reasons, not cosmetic.
“Surgical procedures of the foot and ankle are generally performed for relief of pain, restoration of function, and reconstruction of deformities. They may have the additional benefit of improved appearance," the association said in a statement.
Brenner admitted that she’s received requests from female patients about having their pinky toes removed to fit into smaller shoes. But, she always turns them down.
“Why fix something that’s not broken?” she said.
Dr. Zong, on the other hand, does not see the harm in providing procedures as long as they are safe and a there is a problem to fix.
“I think it's the same as if you would ask for any kind of cosmetic surgery," he said. "They're very embarrassed by the situation and afterward, they gain self-esteem and feel more confident. Some people have said they're so embarrassed that their boyfriends have never seen their feet."
E.R. is pleased with his procedure and is looking forward to wearing summer footwear in confidence.
“My goal is to wear flip-flops,” E.R. said.