Prophylactic surgery is a preventive measure physicians perform for individuals at risk for certain health conditions. Diabetics who are at risk of developing foot ulcerations may have their doctors recommend prophylactic surgery for their feet. Elevated blood sugar from diabetes (i.e. hyperglycemia) can result in damage to the feet and other vital parts of the body including eyes, heart, kidneys, nerves and blood vessels. Untreated or poorly managed diabetes can compromise a person’s health, leading to degenerative conditions that can complicate medical care. The best way to avoid these complications is preventive health care and pre-emptive action, which could include prophylactic foot surgery.
If you or a loved one are diabetic and have noticed a loss of sensation in your feet, it’s recommended that you consult with a board-certified podiatrist. Among the best in the field are the doctors at La Peer Health Systems. La Peer doctors will check your feet to determine if you have a diabetic-related foot problem. Conditions such as bleeding calluses, infected wounds, and unhealed cuts could indicate a serious health condition requiring prompt medical treatment.
Warning Signs for Diabetics
Diabetic neuropathy minimizes an individual’s ability to feel sensation. For diabetics, just exposing their feet to excessive friction or pressure from ill-fitting shoes or poor foot care places them at risk for developing skin problems such as ulcerations and infections. If these conditions are not treated promptly, it could result in irreparable damage.
Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of diabetes will help at risk individuals consult a doctor at an early stage of the disease when less invasive treatment is possible. Symptoms common to diabetes include:
- Leg pain
- Skin color changes
- Ingrown and toenail fungus
- Bleeding corns and calluses
- Dry cracks in the feet around the heel
- Open sores on the feet that are slow to heal
The best preventive action is early recognition by knowing the symptoms and seeing a podiatrist for regular foot screenings. Diabetics lose their capacity of skin sensation and cannot tell when a problem like foot ulceration develops. If the problem is not detected at an early stage, foot ulcers can quickly become infected and lead to serious consequences including amputation. Diabetics must be careful to avoid poorly fitting shoes, which cause skin irritation and sores which could easily worsen.
How Does Prophylactic Surgery Help Diabetics?
Prophylactic surgery can preserve foot function for diabetics by treating infected and open wounds and as a preventive measure even protect the limb from amputation.
Risk of a serious foot condition is greater for diabetics who have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy (nerve loss), vascular disease, and infection. Peripheral neuropathy causes loss of nerve sensation and an inability to feel foot pain. Without proper treatment from a specialist such as the podiatrists at La Peer, foot calluses and cracked skin can unknowingly develop into ulcerations under a callused area. As a result, ulceration can quickly develop, worsen, and eventually threaten the limb.
Who is a Candidate for Prophylactic Surgery?
Candidates who qualify for prophylactic surgery are diabetics with a history of ulceration. Diabetes is a risk factor in surgery. Patient evaluation for prophylactic foot surgery is very thorough to help minimize risk. Screening a surgery prospect includes evaluation of:
- Circulatory system
- Surgical predictive index
Ideally, preventive action to avoid foot injury altogether is first recommended and can include methods such as periodic examinations, education, and even special footwear. If these measures fail and a patient qualifies, then prophylactic surgery could help to preserve foot function.
Q: Is prophylactic surgery a permanent solution?
A: The surgery is a preventive measure since the underlying cause is diabetes, a chronic disease. After surgery and recovery, patients must incorporate healthy lifestyle choices to manage their diabetes and periodically have a knowledgeable specialist, like the podiatrists at La Peer, examine their feet.
Q: When is prophylactic surgery recommended?
A: Surgery is used as a preventive treatment after all other conservative efforts have failed.
Q: Who is a candidate for prophylactic foot surgery?
A: Diabetics who have recurring foot ulcerations and who do not have any other risk factors to surgery. Candidates must be examined by a board-certified podiatrist, such as the doctors at La Peer Health, who can determine if you are fit for surgery.
Contact the Foot Specialists
If you are diabetic and have recurring foot problems, schedule a consultation with one of our expert podiatrists. Our podiatrists offer personalized and effective treatments for conditions of the foot including prophylactic surgery. Contact the Foot and Ankle Surgery Center of Excellence at 888.225.0763 or our Podiatry Department at 855-360-9119.