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How does a toenail grow back after surgical removal?

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Old 08-28-2005, 04:39 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2005
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slinstar HB User
How does a toenail grow back after surgical removal?

I had a fungal infection under the proximal nail fold, and had to have my toenail removed so the infection would clear up. The podiatrist said the nail would start growing back in about a month, but that it would take 6-9 months for the entire nail to grow back.

It has been about 6 weeks, and I'm trying to figure out where the new nail will come from - it all seems very mysterious. A hard protective surface grew over the lunula, and I know it's somewhat hollow underneath it because i can press on it and it gives slightly. My cuticle is loosely over this bumped-up protective surface, I guess because it can't stick to it like it would a nail.

Will the new nail develop under this protective surface, and eventually the surface will come off like a scab, only with new nail under it instead of new skin? I can't quite imagine a new nail slowly sliding out from under the cuticle and over the protective surface, so the first scenario seems to make the most sense. Does anyone know? I tried to find a description or series of photos online but couldn't find anything.

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Old 08-28-2005, 07:30 PM   #2
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Re: How does a toenail grow back after surgical removal?

Oh, I just found the "Natural Nails" section of Marti's site. Maybe the hard coating on top of my matrix are the early nail cells, and they will be pushed up and then forward by the more traditionally nail-like cells that are growing below? That kind-of makes sense (the coating is as hard as nails are, just a little different - puffed up a little more, and lumpier-looking).

The only weird part to me, if that's true, is that my cuticle isn't sticking to anything yet. I only have thick skin back there - it doesn't taper down to the thinness that cuticles usually seem to have where they stick to the nail. And then if I bend my toe, I can see under the skin - the gap goes back a couple of millimeters. Maybe it's because I still have some inflammation (and discoloration, for that matter) to the skin between my "nail" (nail area, where it once was) and the knuckle. My cuticle was detached from my nail before because of all the inflammation from the infection.

It's really weird to try to make sense of a process that usually is hidden by your nail.

Old 08-29-2005, 07:31 PM   #3
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Re: How does a toenail grow back after surgical removal?

You should have read a little further and you would have found out that the tapered part of the skin that you are mentioning is a forward growth of the skin that is tightly adhered to the nail plate. the TRUE cuticle is the transparent skin that grows out withthe cuticle and should be removed during a manicure process. If your epony****m (the soft tissue behind the skin you are describing) is growing forward with the nail plate, you may wnat to get a salon manicure to push this back as it can become dried out, rip and tear - painful!! You SHOULD see a turn in the proximal nail fold and not see a forward growth of the skin. The epony****m (go back and look at the picture of the nail unit) nakes a curve that goes under and where it touches the nail plate it is called the proxuimal nail fold. Search around the site a little more and you will find more pictures of what it should look like with proper manicuring and maintenance.

Glad you found the site helpful in your search. I will also add that nails that are growing in as yours are are due to the surgery. There are 3 main layers to the nail plate. The deepest layer creates the nail plate cells that touch the nail bed. the upper layer creates the nail plate cells you can touch. When any of these experience trauma, they will temporarily create damaged cells that will be pushed forward by new 'normal' cells. yes, it can take from 3-6 months or longer depending on your genetics.

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