Charmaine Gumbs is a self-proclaimed high heel shoe fanatic with everything in her shoe collection from Jimmy Choos to the same ’40s-style pair of heels once worn by Madonna.
“A beautiful pair of shoes can suck me in,” Gumbs, from Brooklyn, N.Y., told “Good Morning America.”
But for Gumbs, her love of high heels came with a price: living with pain in the ball of her foot when she wore her favored shoes.
“It burns and it’s like fire,” she said. “I have my New Year’s Eve Jimmy Choos that I have not put on my foot yet because I am afraid of them…that heel.”
Gumbs chose to take action to fix her pain, becoming one of a number of women across the country choosing to fix their toes instead of giving up their favorite pumps, or even their sandals.
When Jennifer Pyron, a 27-year-old from New York City had to stop wearing her favorite summer shoes because they were being ruined by sweat from her toes, she decided to have a cosmetic procedure.
“A lot of people have the problem, especially women that want to wear great shoes,” said Dr. Suzanne Levine, a podiatrist at the Institute Beaute in New York City who treated both Pyron and Gumbs. “They [women] don’t want their shoes ruined. It really is quite a problem.”
Dr. Levine injected Pyron’s feet with Botox to lessen the sweating. She treated high heel shoe-lover Gumbs’s pain by injecting a biodegradable cushioning into her foot, a filler similar to what people have injected into their smile lines.
The cushioning, which replaces the natural cushioning in the foot, will last about nine months, according to Dr. Levine.
The patient, Gumbs, said she realizes that the procedure may seem crazy to others, but it is worth it to her.
“Not when you love shoes,” she said of the other option, to not wear high heels.
One week after the treatment, Gumbs found herself pain-free.
“I feel not so frightened by my shoes anymore because I love them,” she said. “I look forward to wearing them in comfort, not in agony.”
Pyron also found relief in her feet after her Botox injection.
“Once it kicked in I totally noticed a difference,” she said.
Not all doctors agree, however, that operating on one’s feet to be able to wear a certain type or pair of shoes is a good idea.
“I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with plastic surgery,” said Dr. David Levine, Assistant Attending Orthopaedic Surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City (and no relation to Dr. Suzanne Levine). “I have no problem if someone wants to change their nose, or change their boobs. But you don’t walk on your boobs.”