The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Not a Fairy Tale: NY Podiatrists Urge Caution with “Cinderella Surgery”

Posted by on Thursday, December 11th, 2014


A British newspaper recently told the story of “shoe-addict” Denise Maione-Schwind who altered the size and shape of her feet to wear designer heels more comfortably. While bunion removal is nothing new, we have seen a skyrocketing number of women electing to have their toes shortened and their feet completely reshaped — a procedure referred to as “Cinderella Surgery.” New York City podiatrists at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine are happy to help patients find relief from bunion pain, but caution against foot operations for purely cosmetic reasons.

cinderella foot surgery
Cinderella foot surgery may have long-term consequences, warn NY podiatrists. Image Source: (Anniepancake)

If The Shoe Fits, Wear It

“I realized I was no longer able to walk or dance around in heels because of the bunion on my left foot, and — like many other women — I have invested quite a lot in designer heels. The thought of not being able to wear heels again was daunting,” the 35-year-old flight attendant from New York told reporters. She saw a popular Manhattan reconstructive foot surgeon and says she was back on her feet immediately, without cast or crutches. Allegedly, she can now “wear any pair of heels she wishes, totally pain free” and hopes to run the New York Marathon in the future.

Think About The Long-Term Prognosis

Despite the rosy portrait the media sometimes gives this type of procedure, we worry about the long-term prognosis. We know that the results are favorable for a basic bunionectomy. Surgical procedures for bunions have come a long way in the past decade. Often, we can go in and fix misaligned joints with a very small incision. Full recovery takes between six and 12 weeks. Published success rates for bunion removal range from 80-95 percent.

But what about when you alter the entire foot structure? Cinderella surgery is so new, there is really no way of knowing what will happen to these patients five and ten years down the road. As the NY Times points out, there are no articles or studies demonstrating long-term follow-up for this procedure.

Yahoo! News adds that patients could suffer loss of mobility and even end up needing their toes amputated if these surgeries go horribly wrong. Delayed or non-healing unions, uncontrolled bleeding, infection, reaction to anesthesia, and worsened pain are all possible complications of cosmetic foot surgery. It’s a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Foot Surgery Lawsuits

UK law firmPenningtons Manches LLP employs a specialist dedicated to cosmetic surgery procedures, including Cinderella surgery. They say they have fielded “a number of claims involving surgery performed by podiatrists” when it was not advisable or was done by a poor standard. The lawyers explain that it is important to seek highly qualified professionals who deliver appropriate post-surgery care to ensure that there are no long-term complications.

Tips For Dealing With Bunions

We truly sympathize with patients who feel like nothing completes their wardrobes better than a high heel shoe. Professionally, heels are still trending, and it can be difficult to imagine formal occasions without them. However, there are a few non-invasive options for greater comfort if you have bunions:

  • Shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are most swollen, and use the Brannock Device to measure your feet.
  • Fit shoes to your longest toe, leaving about a thumb’s width between your toe and the tip of the shoe.
  • Look for styles that use platforms and rounded, roomy toe-boxes.
  • Use over-the-counter gel pads to boost comfort and support.

Visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in New York City for a consultation to explore a wide range of treatment options that may or may not include bunion surgery. Our specialists are board-certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgeons and have many years of experience treating bunions and hammer toes. For your convenience, you may book with us online.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.