High Healing: Women resort to extreme foot surgery for better fi - FOX 35 News Orlando

High Healing: Women resort to extreme foot surgery for better shoe fit

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

They make feet look sexy and legs look longer. Celebrities love them and the pages of fashion magazines are filled with towering, glamorous high heels. Even the story of Cinderella revolves around a pair of high heeled glass slippers. Now, more women than ever are choosing surgery or injections to make their feet look great and feel good in them.

"I had them cut and lengthen all of the tendons in all of my toes," said foot surgery patient Heather Sgouridis. "I just had a baby 7 ½ months ago and I wanted to get it done before she started walking and get back into my heels as soon as possible by next summer"

Heather has hammer toe which occurs when toes severely bend or curl under. She didn't like the way her feet looked in heels and they hurt.

"I was embarrassed to get pedicures and now I'm hoping I won't be in the future," says Heather.

Heather's doctor, Marlene Reid, is the past president of the Illinois Podiatric Medical Association. She says almost all women come in asking for a cosmetic foot fix just to find out they have a much deeper problem.

"Once you correct these deformities or correct for some structural abnormality the foot looks better," Dr. Reid says.

Typical abnormalities include long toes which can be shortened or short toes which can be lengthened. There is straightening for crooked toes, toe slimming for bulging toes, foot narrowing, correction of flat feet, re-sizing of metatarsal bones, Botox to control sweat and fillers injected in to the ball of the foot to plump up diminished padding. There is even a procedure to create more toe cleavage.

The line between purely cosmetic and medically necessary is a gray one and the first step is an examination.

"It's more important to find out the cause and to come to the root of the problem as opposed to just covering up the problem," Dr. Reid says.

Reid recalls one woman that chose a quick cosmetic fix rather than being examined. She flew to New York, spent thousands on injections to plump up the balls of her feet and it failed. Then, she turned to Dr. Reid.

"The reason she was having pain on the ball of the foot wasn't because of her heels, it wasn't because of her foot type, it wasn't because of the fat pad was degenerative, it was because the bones were long," Dr. Reid explains.

After surgery to shorten those bones, the woman is back in her heels and feels great.

Balancing on heels creates 7 times the normal pressure on the balls of our feet. To avoid pain and future foot problems, Reid has a high heel help list. Choose a slightly wider heel, never wear the same height of heel two days in a row and learn your size.

"Someone thinks they're a 6 1/2 and they're really an 8. Sometimes simply changing the shoe size corrects the problem," says Dr. Reid.

For Heather, surgery was the best option, but that's not the case for everyone.

"I would shy away from a patient if they come in and say ‘I have this one pair of shoes that I want to wear would you do something would you take off this toe, so I can wear this one pair of shoes,'" Dr. Reid says.

After all, shoe fashion may come and go, but our feet will always be with us.

The cost of these foot fixes and toe tucks can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Some are covered by insurance, but others are not. There are also risks with any kind of foot surgery, which can include swelling, infection, scars, and numbness.

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