Podiatry (Foot Surgery)

Toe Shortening and Straightening

at Cadogan Clinic, London’s Leading Cosmetic Surgery Specialists. 

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What is toe shortening and straightening?

Toe shortening and toe straightening are surgical procedures to correct common deformities of the toes, such as hammer toes, crooked toes and angular toes.

Long toes can be surgically shortened. Depending on the severity and length of the toe, there are several methods to surgically shorten a toe. In general, the surgery involves removing a portion of the bone at the contracted joint, to realign the toe. A metal pin may be placed in the toe during the recovery period.

Toe straightening surgery corrects misaligned toes. This type of surgery involves cutting the bone of the toe and realigning it. Pins, plates or screws may be necessary to hold your bone in place during recovery.

If you’re unhappy with the appearance of your toes, or you’re experiencing significant pain due to crooked or angular toes, then you’re likely a good candidate for corrective surgery. All toe surgeries are done as a day-case procedure.

The cost of toe shortening surgery or toe straightening at the Cadogan Clinic starts at £1,800. 

This includes:

  • Up to two 60 minute consultations with a leading specialist plastic surgeon at our award-winning premises in Chelsea
  • Your procedure carried out at London’s leading specialist cosmetic surgery centre of excellence
  • 24/7 on call nurse assistance 
  • Dedicated Patient Co-ordinator, as a personal point of contact through your journey with Cadogan 
  • A pre-operative medical assessment to ensure you are fit for surgery  
  • Comprehensive post-operative aftercare courtesy of our specialist cosmetic nurses.
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What conditions can toe shortening and straightening help?

There are three common foot deformities that can be helped by toe straightening or toe shortening surgery.

There are several different types of crooked toe, including mallet toe (an abnormal bend in the top joint of the toe), claw toe (toes bend under towards the soles), overlapping toe (toe sitting on top of an adjacent toe) and adductovarus toe (rotated toe).

The cause of crooked toes varies, but they may be caused by tight or poorly-fitting footwear, joint damage, nerve damage, obesity or an hereditary condition. Crooked toes can also be the result of previous injury or trauma, for example, caused by a broken toe that did not heal properly.

Crooked toes don’t always hurt and, depending on the type and the cause, they may correct themselves. Simple lifestyle changes, such as changing your footwear or losing weight, can also help. However some crooked toes, if left untreated, can cause pain, inability to move the toe and further foot injury and deformity, including corns, calluses and open sores. Crooked toe surgery may involve cutting or removing some of the toe joint and rotating the toe to make it straight.

Angular toes, when your big toe is pointing towards the other toes on the same foot, are often caused by the presence of bunions on the side of the big toe. 

Toe straightening surgery can return the toes to their natural position while getting rid of the bunion which caused them to deviate in the first place. 

A condition called hammer toe is a common deformity that causes toes to bend downward instead of pointing forward and can cause significant pain and difficulty in wearing shoes comfortably. This toe deformity progresses over time until the toes become dislocated. It can affect any toe on the foot but most often affects the second or third toe. Although a hammer toe may be present at birth, it usually develops over time due to wearing ill-fitting shoes, or arthritis. In most cases, a hammer toe condition is treatable.

If you are unable to flex your toes then hammer toe surgery is the only option to restore movement. 

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The cost of Toe Shortening and Straightening

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What are the options for Toe Shortening and Straightening?

Toe reduction surgery helps to eradicate common toe deformities, such as an over-long second toe (Morton’s Toe) which can lead to hammer toes developing. There are generally two different methods of toe reduction. These are joint resection (arthroplasty) or bone mending (fusion). The location depends on where the toe is perceived to be too long or at the site of any buckling of the toes.

During toe shortening surgery, the surgeon will carry out a digital arthroplasty, which involves removing some or all of the small bone that forms the joint. Once the toe or toes are shortened to the desired length, a small implant or temporary wire may be inserted to hold the newly shortened toe in place to help the toe retain its flexibility. The use of wire or a medical implant largely depends on which toe is being operated on. An over-long second toe (Morton’s Toe) nearly always requires this medical hardware to aid healing and to keep the toe fixed in its new position. In contrast, the fifth toe rarely requires any wire or pinning.

Toe straightening surgery can be carried out on one or several toes at a time. Toe straightening surgery can restore a natural appearance to your feet by correcting misaligned toes. Misaligned toes are often directly related to the presence of bunions, a prominent bump at the base of the big toe. Toe straightening surgery is for people who have crooked or angular toes, which may be caused by a bunion.

In this particular type of surgery, the surgeon will begin by making an incision along the top of the toe or toes. The joint at the base of the toe is freed up and the surgeon may decide to remove some of the bone from the joint to allow the joint to be corrected. Bone is removed from the middle joint of the toe. Sometimes the surgeon may reroute a tendon from the underside of the toe to the top of the toe to help with the correction. A pin is inserted into the toe tip in order to stabilize the now straightened toe.

The procedure involves repositioning the toe, removing the deformed or injured bone, and realigning the tendons. The process is similar to toe shortening surgery.

Hammer toe surgery involves a digital arthroplasty, which removes half of the toe joint while leaving some movement in the toe. A digital arthrodesis will remove all of the joint in order for all the toe or toes to sit flat and be straightened out.

Because hammer toes become rigid over time, sometimes removing the whole joint is the only option when the toes are stiff. A temporary wire will help to keep the toe or toes straight until the bone has healed when it will be removed. The toe or toes will be rigid and the hammer toe gone.

It is important to note that the above procedures are only concerned with the small joints in the toes. They do not involve the joint at the ball of the foot. 

Our expert in toe shortening London will be able to discuss all the available surgical options with you at your initial consultation.

Why do people have this treatment?

There are a number of reasons why people choose to have toe shortening surgery or toe straightening surgery.

  • Pain on the toe tip: People with an over-long second toe often find that the toe tip presses or rubs on shoes, leading to toe pain. The pain can range from dull and mild or sharp and severe, impacting on mobility. Toe shortening surgery can relieve this pain.
  • Thick toe calluses: Excessive pressure on the toes, caused by ill-fitting shoes, can cause thick calluses to appear on the toes. These may be uncomfortable and unattractive to look at. Toe shortening or toe straightening will relieve the pressure on the affected part of the toe and solve the problem of toe calluses.
  • Interference with walking or other activities: Pain or discomfort in the toe or toes can interfere with day-to-day activities, for example, you may find it difficult to walk or stand for long periods of time, which may affect your work. You may find yourself unable to go running or play sports because of your toe deformity.
  • Difficulty fitting shoes: Painful toes can make it difficult to find a pair of shoes that fit. An overly-long toe can rub on the end of the shoe while hammer toes can make the toes rub on the top of the shoe, causing discomfort and lead to corns. Your toe deformity may make it difficult to wear closed shoes comfortably.
  • Worsening toe deformity: Some people may have a deformity of the toe or toes which is not causing any pain or impacting on their quality of life, so they don’t see the need to seek treatment. However, if left, some toe deformities can worsen. For example, if hammer toes are not treated, the toes can end up dislocating. Crooked toes can ultimately cause corns, calluses and open sores, which could become infected. And if any toe deformity continues to deteriorate, you run the risk of the condition impacting on your day-to-day life.
  • Unsightly appearance: Even if your toe deformity is not causing you pain or discomfort, you may still feel embarrassed by the appearance of your toes. You may feel unable to wear flip flops, sandals or go barefoot in public, for example, to go swimming or sunbathing on the beach. Toe shortening or toe straightening surgery will help to restore your confidence.

Toe Shortening and Straightening Surgeons

We have invited a selection of the country's very best consultants to join us at the Cadogan Clinic so that you can be sure that whatever the nature of your treatment, you will be seeing one of the top practitioners in the country.

What to expect from toe shortening or straightening surgery?

You will meet with one of our highly trained surgeons at the Clinic on Sloane Street, Chelsea, for a no-obligation in-person assessment. They will go through the procedure, discuss your medical history and take key measurements and clinical photography. If you decide to go ahead with your toe straightening or to shortening surgery, you will be given a two-week cooling-off period. 

The surgery is carried out as a day case and you will need a friend or relative to drive you home afterwards. You will have minimal mobility and should stay off your feet for as much as possible for two weeks after surgery.

You will return to the clinic within two weeks for an assessment.

The Patient Journey. A breakdown of what you can expect on your journey with us

We are deeply invested in ensuring that every step of your surgical journey with us is as informative and reassuring to you as it can be. This article outlines what you can expect at each stage of the journey

The Patient Journey

Frequently Asked Questions

Recovery from toe shortening surgery, or any other type of toe surgery, varies depending on which method was used and which toes were operated on. You should keep the leg rested and elevated for 48 hours after surgery and mobilise when advised by your consultant. This will help the healing process.

You should be able to return to day-to-day activities, such as normal walking and driving, from two weeks, although this may take longer. The total healing process takes in the region of six to eight weeks. However a full recovery may take as long as six months. Factors that may delay the healing process include smoking and drinking alcohol. Keep wounds dry and clean.

It is vital that you follow all the aftercare advice issued by your surgeon. Failure to do so may delay the healing process or affect the final result. 

As part of your toe shortening surgery at the Cadogan Clinic, you will have access to comprehensive, 24/7 post-operative aftercare courtesy of our specialist cosmetic nurses.

You can expect to be walking within a week of your toe shortening or toe straightening surgery. But this time frame varies depending on which toe or toes were operated on, the severity of the operation and which surgical methods were used. In general, you can expect a faster recovery time if the surgery only involved the fourth or fifth toes. It may take slightly longer to return to walking if the second toe was operated on. This is because the second toe is longer and is used to ‘push off’ while walking. You may find that it also takes longer to return to normal footwear if the second toe has been operated on. Your consultant will be able to advise you further on this.

Depending on the type of surgery you have and how many toes are being operated on, you may be asked to wear a stiff soled surgical shoe following your toe surgery. This open-toed footwear may be required for up to four weeks. After this surgical shoe is no longer required, your surgeon may suggest wearing a wide, soft, deep shoe for comfort and to help with the healing process. By around the six week mark you should expect to be back in ordinary, closed-toe, footwear. 

But as mentioned above, every case is different. Your surgeon will be able to advise you on how long you will need to wear surgical footwear ahead of your surgery. Book an appointment with one of our experts who will be able to discuss potential toe shortening, toe straightening or hammer toe surgery with you at our London clinic.

There are several causes of a long toe.

When the second toe appears longer than the big toe, this is called a Morton’s Toe. This is a common hereditary condition.

A bunion may also cause the second toe to appear longer. This is because this bony lump on the outside of the big toe can cause the toe to bend towards the other toes, making one, or several, appear longer.

If a bunion is the cause of your long toe or toes, then surgery to remove the bunion will be required in order to return the toes to their normal size and shape. 

Bunions can cause crowding of smaller toes, which may result in hammer toes or similar foot deformities developing. Bunion removal surgery can help to prevent any further problems. A bunion will not go away by itself.

A long second toe is also known as Morton’s Toe. It is a common hereditary condition.

In the human foot, the long bones that connect the toes to the back of the foot are called metatarsals. The first metatarsal, the one you will find on the big toe, is the thickest.

In people presenting with Morton’s Toe, the first metatarsal is shorter compared to the second metatarsal, which makes the second toe appear longer than the big toe. This may cause foot aches and pains as this structural deformity puts more weight on the second, thinner, metatarsal bone. People with Morton’s Toe may find they are more prone to calluses developing where the long toe rubs on footwear.

If your second toe is longer than your big toe, you are at a greater risk of developing hammer toe or mallet toe.

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Founded in 2004 by world renowned plastic surgeon Mr Bryan Mayou, we now work with over 100 leading consultants and successfully treat over 20,000 patients each year. We have been winning industry awards since inception.

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All of our treatments take place at our beautiful boutique premises in Chelsea. We have six consulting rooms and five operating rooms, as well as a dedicated pre and post-operative suite, and a full team of specialist nursing staff.

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We were founded in 2004 by world renown plastic surgeon Mr Bryan Mayou, best known for his pioneering work in the area of liposuction, lasers and microvascular surgery. We continue to collaborate with pioneers in our field.

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What are the risks?

Complications are rare although, as with all surgery, possible. Your surgeon will discuss each of these risks comprehensively at your consultation. 


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Aesthetic Journal

Best Clinic in London Shortlist

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Aesthetics Awards

Highly Commended

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My Face My Body

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Laurel Wreath for Awards
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My Face My Body

Best Clinic Winner

Laurel Wreath for Awards
Laurel Wreath for Awards


My Face My Body


Laurel Wreath for Awards
Laurel Wreath for Awards


My Face My Body

Highly Commended

Laurel Wreath for Awards
Laurel Wreath for Awards


Aesthetics Awards

Highly Commended

Laurel Wreath for Awards

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