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Nail Removal

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 3, 2023.

What do I need to know about nail removal?

Nail removal can prevent infection, decrease ingrown nail pain, and help the nail heal from an injury. You may need to have all or part of your nail removed.

How do I prepare for nail removal?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about how to prepare for surgery. You may be told not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. Your provider will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of your surgery. You may need to have someone drive you home and stay with you.

What will happen during nail removal?

  • You will be given local anesthesia to numb the surgery area. A flat tool will be inserted under your nail to separate it from your skin. If only part of your nail needs to be removed, scissors will be used to cut your nail. Your nail will then be gently removed.
  • You may need a matricectomy. This is when part of your nail matrix is destroyed so a small section of your nail stops growing. Your nail matrix is the area that your nail grows from. It is the pale or white color at the base of your nail. Most of the matrix cannot be seen because it is underneath your skin. A chemical, laser, or instrument may be used to destroy the nail matrix.

What will happen after nail removal?

Your healthcare provider may put antibiotic ointment and a bandage on your finger or toe. Your provider may want to look at your finger or toe again within 24 hours after your procedure. You may have yellowish drainage for 2 to 6 weeks after your procedure.

What are the risks of nail removal?

You may bleed more than expected or develop an infection. You may have damage to surrounding tissue. Your nail may look disfigured or you may have a scar. It make take longer than expected to heal.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.