Although foot binding exists in China even to this day, now there is something more modern and high-tech. The procedures may be different and the results not nearly as extreme, but the motivation and outcomes are not entirely unrelated.
Today one can get cosmetic foot surgery.
Many trendy shoes and stilettos seem to be designed with total disregard for the natural anatomy of a woman's foot with its twenty-six bones, even more tendons, and lots of blood vessels, nerves, and, of course, skin. Such shoes are supposed to make a woman look more sexy, as was the case with ancient foot binding.
The most common modern affliction of the toes is the bunion in which the big toe turns in toward the second toe and the tissues around the joint swell and become inflamed. If the angle of toe bending becomes too big and unsightly, the pain too great, or the second toe too compressed and bent upward (hammer toe), bunionectomy surgery may be indicated.
But because even normal toes and feet can get in the way of today's high style, some enterprising surgeons have begun to offer a menu of cosmetic toe-tucks and foot-plasties that have nothing to do with disease.
While commercial fillers can be injected into the ball of the foot to serve as a cushion and plump toes can have liposuction, that's just for starters.
If the foot is too wide, it can be surgically shaved down on both sides.
If the little toe gets in the way, it can be narrowed by soft tissue excision and shortened by fracturing the bone, removing a segment, and inserting stainless steel pins to help it heal.
The second toe, too, can pose a shoe problem, as it not uncommonly seems to be just a little too long for comfort.
Many surgeons caution that the foot bears the body's full weight throughout the day and may not appreciate its new shape. Operated bones may fail to heal properly and become misaligned. Subtle changes in foot alignment may cause pain in the hips, knees, and along the spine.
If even minor complications arise with cosmetic foot surgery, the result may be painful and require complicated and multiple corrective operations.
And if all goes well initially, give it a little time. Poorly designed shoes that heap chronic abuse on the pinkies can eventually again take their toll, leaving some patients not only right back where they started but possibly with new feet that are now uncomfortable in even the most orthopedically-correct footwear.
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