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Thousands Of People Are Getting "Cinderella Surgery" On Their Toes - Here's Why

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It's a tale as old as time: you step into a shopping center and find the perfect pair of shoes - only to realize they don't fit.

While you can hope your dream footwear will only be temporarily uncomfortable, it isn't always guaranteed.

But for some people, their negative attitude towards shoe shopping stems from a completely different reason.

While we can all agree that feet aren't exactly the most attractive part of the body, it's common to feel uptight over your toes, especially if one is noticeably longer than the other.

Luckily for those who have a hard time feeling comfortable in their footwear or are insecure over their bare feet, doctors have come up with a solution for you - have toe shortening surgery.

"I was revolted by them."

Whenever Paulina Charlikowska, went shopping with her friends, she felt embarrassed trying on shoes, disgusted with her own feet.

"It sounds silly, but I’ve always hated my feet and felt too embarrassed to get them out in front of my friends," she told Daily Mail.

"Even as a child, I thought they didn’t look normal. I was revolted by them."

The salon owner from Blackpool, England said her choice of career made her grow more anxious over her "huge" feet day after day.

"It didn’t help that my feet were a huge size eight, which meant shoes looked ungainly, and my second and third toes were longer than my big toes. I would squeeze my feet into shoes two sizes smaller, so my toes were always sore and covered in corns."

"I knew I was making my feet look even worse, but I couldn’t bear to wear big, ugly shoes. Because I work in the beauty industry, I spend all day looking at people’s feet, which made me even more unhappy with my own."

Eventually Charlikowska made the decision to do something about her insecurity by having an operation know as "Cinderella surgery."

"They’re seen as the most glamorous, desirable accessory."

The cosmetic procedure alter's the shape and size of a person's feet to enhance their appearance, by either shortening or lengthening your appendages, removing fat from their big toe, and even shaving off excess bone to remove any unwanted lumps and bumps.

Dr. Jason Hargrave, consultant in podiatric surgery at Harley Street’s Cosmetic Foot Surgery Centre, said that this surgery is growing in popularity due to the increasing desire to wearing open-toed shoes.

"They’re seen as the most glamorous, desirable accessory, and not being able to wear them can be depressing. All my patients say they long to wear open-toed shoes, but that they can’t because they hate their feet."

One of the most common requests patients have are to get their index toe shortened, as long toes can make them buckle, causing extra pressure to the tip of the toe and knuckle.

While the procedure is simple, it's also not for the faint of heart.

Once a patient is put under anesthetic, a section of the toe's bone is removed, while the rest of the bone is remodeled and held in place with either a wire or implant.

Patients are typically sewed up with three stitches, while having the newly excess skin scrunched up.

"I could hear my bones being sawed and crunched, which was horrible."

When Charlikowska saw a documentary on the procedure, she knew it would be the answer to her problems.  

"From that moment, I became obsessed with finding a way to have the operation," she said about her 2013 surgery.

"My husband Jacob, who’s a manager at an air-conditioning company, thought I was mad. He doesn’t believe in surgery unless it’s necessary, but when I started saving the £4,500 ($5,900 USD) I needed, he realized he couldn’t stop me."

Charlikowska had her second and toes shortened by a centimeter by Hargrave, and said while it was a long recovery process, she hasn't regretted her decision to have it done, adding that not only the scars on her feet are barely noticeable, but she's also gone down a size in shoes.

"It took an hour and although I couldn’t feel anything, I could hear my bones being sawed and crunched, which was horrible."

"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 I walked using crutches for a couple of weeks before I could walk normally again, although I couldn’t exercise for six months."

"My husband and friends still think I’m crazy to have spent £4,500 on my toes, but 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. I’m so proud of my new feet."

"I would never recommend it unless it’s necessary."

Like all procedures, the "Cinderella surgery" comes with its own set of risks, such as infection, swelling and deformities, making several physicians recommending that patients shorten their toes unless it's absolutely necessary.

"However, our doctors caution against doing surgery purely for aesthetic reasons because 1-3% of foot surgeries can be disasters," he commented.

"All surgical procedures contain risks including, but not limited to, wound problems, infections, nerve injury, recurrence of deformity, post-surgical pain, and scar formation," said Donald R. Bohay, MD, a member of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS).

"There are also risks associated with anesthesia. Post-surgical complications could lead to an inability to walk or wear shoes comfortably. In deciding when to proceed with surgery, a patient and surgeon must consider all the risks and benefits of a procedure."

[H/T: Daily Mail]

Would you ever undergo this surgery? Let us know in the comments!

Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com