My Quest to Find Toe Liposuction in Philly

Is the "Cinderella" foot surgery trend really happening here?

Just when I think we’ve reached the end of everything we could possibly do to our bodies—dimple implants, cankle lipo, abdominal etchingThe New York Times came out with an article about women getting “Cinderella” foot surgeries so that they can fit more comfortably into their designer shoes:

 “Dr. Neal Blitz, a podiatrist who specializes in aesthetic and reconstructive procedures (including a Bunionplasty) at his private practice in Manhattan, and operates at Mount Sinai Hospital, calls this body part “the final frontier” for those who have had work done on their faces. “My practice has exploded because of Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin and Nicholas Kirkwood,” he said in a recent phone interview. “There’s nothing like opening a shoe closet that’s been closed to somebody for years.”

Foot surgery to alleviate discomfort from wearing high heels is nothing new—people have been getting treatments for bunions, corns and plantar fasciitis for ages (welcome to the party, NYT!)—but the article’s mention of toe liposuction and toe shortening caught my attention. Toe shortening? Toe lipo? Is this really a thing now? Are women in Philly asking for doctors to suck the fat … out of their toes? We have officially lost our minds. We are basically one tiny step away from going back to full-fledged foot binding. I immediately set aside my very important copy deadlines to investigate. How hard could it really be to get my toes shortened and a little bit of toe lipo in Philly?

First I called Dr. Bruce Zappan of Medical Arts Podiatry Associates at 1601 Walnut Street, who didn’t seem shocked when I asked about women getting foot surgery so that they can wear pretty shoes. “It’s nothing new,” he said. “Patients that get chronic pain, it’s usually the small toe. There’s a procedure called arthroplasty, which is a simple outpatient surgery done under local anesthetic to repair the joint. You remove a little piece of bone from the toe to relieve the pressure. Now they just call it toe shortening.” (This costs about $1,500.)

Hm. Well, that didn’t sound too crazy. Then Dr. Zappan mentioned that women were requesting injections—like facial fillers—for extra padding under the foot.

Ooh! Now we were on to something! It’s like the surgical version of Dr. Scholl’s gel pads!

“So would you do that to my feet?” I asked. The answer: Nope. Dr. Zappan doesn’t do fat foot injections because the materials are expensive, it’s uncomfortable to the patient, and the procedure has to be done every six months or so because the new fatty tissue eventually wears right back down. “The problem is the fact that if you take fat from somewhere else, like the buttock, and you put it on the bottom of the foot, you’ll get natural atrophy of the fatty tissue,” he said. Ew.

I tried to talk him into some toe shortening. He’d only do it, he said, if I was in pain, if treatment failed, and after he’d educated me on wearing properly fitting shoes. Well, that’s no fun. I asked about toe liposuction—toe liposuction!—and he somehow steered the conversation far away from this. On to the next doc.

I called the Mount Airy location of Philadelphia Podiatry Associates to see if they’d give me toe liposuction. It was a firm no.

“Really?” I asked, sort of pleadingly.

“Mmm, no. No. No,” the lady said.

Next up: Dr. Mallory Eisenman, who has offices in Rittenhouse and Northeast Philly. Another no. Jesus. If you’ve got obese toes in Philly, you’re really up a creek.

I tried calling Penn, but there are just too many prompts and operators and extensions to deal with. I don’t have time for all of this. I JUST NEED SOME STUPID TOE LIPOSUCTION.

My last call was to Philadelphia Podiatrist, the office of Dr. Diamond and Dr. Raducanu on Chestnut Street.

“Do you do toe shortening?” I asked the woman who picked up. She asked me to clarify. “Like, if I wanted to get my toes surgically shortened so that I can fit better into my designer shoes, would you do that?”


“Hm. Okay. Well, has anyone ever asked you to do that?”

“No. Never.”

“Interesting. Now how about toe liposuction?”

Then she told me to wait a minute and she put me on hold. This was not looking good. I hung up.

Turns out, Philly hasn’t completely lost its mind. Or maybe we’re all still so laser-focused on the face that we haven’t yet turned down the road into aesthetic foot surgery. I hope we never do. We’ve got enough crap to worry about—wrinkles, gray hair, cellulite, hairy upper lips. Adding fat toes to the equation, well, that’s enough to push anyone over the brink. And it’s a good thing we’re not there yet, because in my quest to find “Cinderella” foot surgery in Philly, I came up empty-handed. I’m not too worried about it, though. Glass slippers are so last season.