Cosmetic Surgery, From Head -- to Toe?

Even surgeons who perform cosmetic foot procedures say that above everything else, the proper workings of the foot must be preserved or a doctor could do lifelong harm to a patient.

"The foot has to function," Mogul said. "That's the No. 1 thing. The foot has to bear and transfer weight, and it has to last a lifetime."

But Mogul says that there are many situations in which a foot can be operated upon safely, without a negative effect on the foot's function.

And he says that just as important as choosing the proper procedure is choosing the right surgeon. Patients, he says, must do their homework in order to ensure that they trust their feet to a qualified expert.

"They have to be very well-versed in orthopedic podiatry in general," Mogul said. "Now that it's out there, though, many people are raising up their hands and saying, 'I can do that too.'"

As a result, Mogul says, up to 10 percent of his practice is revision work, correcting the mistakes of prior foot surgery.

"If the function of a foot is sacrificed, certainly pain -- and possibly long-term pain -- can be a problem. The patient certainly has to understand, if it is a cosmetic procedure, what the risks are," he said.

Quest for a 'Normal' Foot?

Risks and benefits aside, the attention that doctors now pay to patients' feet will no doubt remain an enigma to some. After all, nobody's perfect -- and what better place to carry a minor aesthetic flaw than your feet?

"It's good to be reminded that surgery never makes anyone normal," Brodsky said. "God or nature makes them normal; surgery makes them different."

Still, as every square inch of our bodies comes under increasing scrutiny, the appeal of beautiful feet may prove to be enough of a motivation to some to make a secret appointment with a podiatric surgeon.

"I would submit this: Is there an industry out there that caters to the aesthetics of feet? Of course," Mogul said. "Some people have said that this is wrong, but we have been doing it for years, and we have some very happy patients."

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