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Cinderella Surgery – Bizarre Toe Shortening Procedure Is Latest Bizarre Beauty Trend

After the alarming ‘engagement ring hand lift’ and ‘picture perfect selfie’ surgeries, cosmetic foot surgery is now the latest bizarre trend in the beauty enhancement industry. Also known as ‘Cinderella Surgery’, the controversial procedure involves altering the size and shape of women’s toes to perfectly fit into high-heeled designer shoes.

The surgery promises to shorten or lengthen toes, shave off excess bone to remove lumps and bumps, and even suck off excess fat from big toes. It first gained popularity in the United States, but the trend is now catching up rapidly in the UK and other countries around the world. Cosmetic clinics offering this kind of surgery are capitalizing on the deep yearning that women seem to have for perfect feet.

According to podiatric surgeon Dr. Jason Hargrave, “Cosmetic foot surgery is a rapidly growing trend, fuelled by the popularity of the Sex-And-The-City-style killer heels. They’re seen as the most glamorous, desirable accessory, and not being able to wear them can be depressing.” He says that all his patients long to wear open-toed shoes, but can’t because they hate their feet.

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In many cases, women seem to loathe their feet so much that they even hide them from their husbands. So now that procedures to change them are available, many women are actually jumping at the chance. Paulina Charlikowska, for instance, spent a little over $7,500 to get her feet surgically enhanced.

“It sounds silly, but I’ve always hated my feet and felt too embarrassed to get them out in front of my friends,” said 30-year-old Paulina, a salon owner from Blackpool, UK. Before surgery was an option, Paulina would force her feet into shoes that were two sizes smaller, so her toes were always sore and covered in corns. So when she heard about the Cinderella surgery, she knew it was the best gift she could give herself.

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Photo: 10 Most Known

Her husband thought she was mad, but Paulina did everything she could to save up for the surgery. In October last year, she finally went for it – she had her second and third toes shortened by a centimeter at Dr. Hargrave’s clinic, under a local anesthetic. “It took an hour and although I couldn’t feel anything, I could hear my bones being sawed and crunched, which was horrible,” she said.

“There was no pain afterwards, but I had wires in my toes for five weeks and one toe became infected, so I had to take antibiotics.” After the wires were removed, Paulina walked using crutches for a few weeks, until she was able to walk on normally again. Now her feet are fully healed, apart from a few, barely noticeable scars. Her feet are one size smaller than before, a fact that she’s ecstatic about. “I believe that if you hate a part of your body and it’s affecting how you feel, there’s nothing wrong with getting it fixed,” she said. “I’m so proud of my new feet now.”

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Photo: George Lian MD

Despite Paulina’s success story and many others as well, experts don’t consider cosmetic foot surgery to be the best idea. Many orthopaedic surgeons have warned that these surgeries are highly invasive, involving the cutting open of toes, sawing the bones and then screwing them back together. This poses a high risk for serious complications, like permanent foot pain and restricted joint movement. “In most extreme cases, there’s even a small risk of life-threatening blood clots,” said Andrea Scott, a consultant orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon. “Even when surgery is successful, it involves spending at least six to eight weeks recovering. I would never recommend it unless it’s necessary.”

Adding to the growing concerns about Cinderella surgery is the fact that it is mostly performed by inexperienced podiatrists. They aren’t the same as consultant orthopaedic surgeons, who would have over 15 years of extensive training. Podiatrists can perform surgery under local anaesthetic after a one-year postgraduate course. They aren’t even required to state whether they have any additional surgical qualifications. So there is no way to check a practitioner’s credibility before opting for surgical foot enhancement.

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Photo: FootDocGA

According to Scott, cosmetic foot surgery could actually cause more problems than it cures – like pain and restricted joint movement, where there was previously no problem at all. Case in point is 37-year-old Danielle Sandler, who had her toes corrected by a surgeon at a private London hospital. Although her husband Nick tried to talk her out of it, she insisted on getting the procedure done. “Looking back, I can see I just jumped into it, thinking it would solve everything, but now I really regret ignoring Nick’s advice,” she said.

Under general anaesthetic, Danielle had hooks inserted into her toes to straighten them. “After the operation, I was in excruciating pain, and it soon became clear that something had gone wrong, because my toes were sticking up at a weird angle,” she said. “They didn’t touch the floor when I stood up. A few weeks later, I had to have a second operation to try to correct them, but they still have an upwards slant.”


The hooks were pulled out of her toes six weeks later, without anaesthetic, an experience that was so painful that she almost passed out. Her feet were swollen and she couldn’t walk at all, so she ended up having to take six months off from her job as a PA. “I felt very frustrated and down, stuck at home and unable to do anything,” she said. “I wondered if my feet would ever heal properly, and I still have a lot of problems. The worst is that because my toes don’t bend, my feet are always stiff, which affects my ankles and knees.”

Danielle now realizes that the surgeon was probably more interested in correcting the appearance of her feet, rather than improving their function. She’s now advising women to think carefully before going in for such procedures. “People should think very carefully before they jump into having foot surgery for cosmetic reasons. It’s not worth the risk just for the sake of vanity – my feet are more painful now than they were before.”

via Daily Mail, ABC News

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