Matricectomy: What is it?

When you look at the anatomy of a toenail you will see that on top of the nail bed sits something called a nail matrix.  A matricectomy derives its name from the nail matrix and refers to the process of removing it via surgery, the application of an acid chemical, or the use of a laser.  The nail matrix can be partially removed or removed in its entirety.

Matricectomies are reserved for those patients with particularly problematic ingrown nail conditions and for those who have repeated occurrences of ingrown toenails.  When we speak of ingrown toenail surgery, a matricectomy is the most aggressive form of surgical procedure to mitigate the problem.  However, there are less invasive surgical options that do not require the removal of the nail matrix.


Matricectomies involving the entire removal of the nail matrix are also referred to as a full matricectomy, full nail avulsion, phenolisation or full phenol avulsion.

The terms phenolisation and full phenol avulsion refer to the chemical phenol, which is a carbolic acid used to kill the matrix during ingrown toenail removal surgery.