At Compleet Feet we treat many patients with damaged finger nails whereby trauma has damaged the nail bed. The nail plate grows distorted and lifts off before reaching the finger tip. It is very hard to repair a damaged nail bed. There are complicated nail bed surgical grafting techniques available, when there is serious damage is required, but low level laser can offer a less invasive treatment option. If a damaged nail has not grown out normally after 12 months the damage is permanent.
Nail plates grow forward from the germinal matrix which lies under the cuticle skin at the base of the nail called the eponychium. New nail cells as they grow out are compacted flat and are attached to the nail bed by linear transverse fine grooves called matrix crests. These groove attachments are very delicate and important in keeping the nail plate flat and smooth. Think off them as Velcro in construction. The hooks and the loops need to be intact to ensure a nice ‘normal’ looking nail. If they get damaged through trauma,disease, poor circulation and nutrition the nail plate can lift (onycholysis) and may never re-attach at certain points. Nails therefor looked deformed and can become thickened. A very upsetting presentation if it is a finger nail which is always on show.
What do you do? Patience is firstly required. Often nail plates will grow out normally, albeit slowly. Finger nails about 0.2mm per month and toenail a mere 0.1mm. Be mindful that damaged nails are prone to fungal infections as the integrity of the nail structure is compromised and fungal dermaphytes are opportunists looking for an easy portal of entry. Avoid painting damaged nails as this can exacerbate the problem by trapping in fungal spores which then germinate.
Nail growth is retarded by the nail fungus. Nail plates grow upwards as to outwards. If the infection reaches the germinal matrix all new cells become infected and eventually the matrix is irreversibly damaged resulting in a thickened distorted nail plate.This highlights the importance of acting very quickly if you suspect you have a fungal infection. This also applies to trauma damaged nails. Need to expedite new healthy nail growth to avoid potential damaging issues like infection or resulting long term scar tissue.
Best course of action is to have a course of Lunula low level laser, whether it is to repair and stimulate fast healthy growth to reduce scarring, or to eradicate any presenting dermaphyte infection. The Erchonia hand held low level lasers are frequency specific thus can be programmed to treat all stages of healing. The Lunula laser is calibrated to simultaneously concentrate on presenting microbes whether fungal or bacterial and stimulate new healthy growth. It holds an FDA market clearance following the level 1 clinical study by Robert Sullivan. This demonstrates it does what it says on the tin!
Patients who have been patient and present with long term damage to their fingernails need more than just laser treatment. It is apparent that the underlying nail bed needs to be’fixed’. We need to get the nail plate back in the ‘groove’. The delicate nail bed ‘hooks’ and ‘hoop’s need to be restored, and this cannot be done when the nail plate still attached. It needs to be surgically removed in a simple and painless procedure. This then allows the whole nail bed to be reconditioned. This is done with the Lunula laser and specialist post treatment. The laser will improve circulation and nutrition to the bed and help stimulate new collagen and elastin which is associated with good tissue repair. Following the surgery patients work closely with the podiatrist to get optimal results and satisfaction.
A new nail plate will be encouraged to quickly grow forward at a faster rate than normal which helps to insure a good cosmetic result. It may seem strange and extreme to remove a damaged nail, when it was trauma initially that damaged the nail, but it does ensure better long-term results. It must be noted not all podiatrists are insured to surgically remove finger nails.