You might call me a beauty hypochondriac. I often take something others might see as small and blow it out into melodramatic proportions. In middle school, I was convinced my hairy arms were monstrous, and I'm terrified people will stare, judge, and mock my breasts, which seem incredibly large in relation to my small stature. When I take a step back, I can chalk these insecurities up to anxiety and low self-esteem — all except one, that is. This is a fact: I have an utterly hideous big toe. In high school, I developed Athlete's Foot, which came with a miserable stench and an uncomfortable itch. My favorite after-school activity? Scratching the hell out of my toes. The fungus combined with incessant scratching made for quite the crusty, discolored sight. Pedicures are mortifying. Sitting on the subway in open-toed shoes means I have to double-wrap my legs over one another to hide my feet. Beach days bring the risk of of a dried-out toenail that might potentially fall off — yes, fall off. And sex? Strictly with socks on. I'm not broadcasting that detail on my Bumble account, so the third date could get pretty awkward.
It wasn't until I went to enjoy a medical foot facial for a different story and met Suzanne Levine, DPM and a board-certified podiatric surgeon, that I realized this long-term problem could be reversed. “You’re too pretty to have these ugly feet," she said to me as kindly as she could. "You can easily get that fixed with a laser." I've never agreed to a medical procedure faster in my life. It helped that the treatment was simple — most are even covered by insurance. The first line of attack was the fungus happily living in my nail root. It created a vicious cycle of my nail constantly growing, but inevitably becoming infected by the unstoppable bacteria. Dr. Levine suggested a three-part laser treatment at her Institute Beauté here in New York that would essentially destroy the fungus over the course of three months to allow the new nail to form a healthy, clean, and smooth surface from root to tip. Dr. Levine assured me that it’s the body, not necessarily the laser, that fixes the problem. Your nail continues to grow no matter how much fungus is inhabiting the root, but with the help of the laser, that fungus would be killed and eventually disappear. With a small pen, Dr. Levine shot beams of a Q-Clear Laser from the root of my nail across the entire surface to ensure every inch of fungus was being targeted. This machine uses a 1064 nm (near infrared light laser) to heat the fungus. “This very rapidly heats the nail bed and the nail where the fungal infection is living. The heat inactivates the fungus,” she explained. The pulsations of the laser are quick and short, so the pain is very minimal, but comes with a warming sensation throughout the duration of the 15-minute procedure. The immediate benefits were minimal to the naked eye, but the texture of my toe was noticeably softer and smoother to me. While the yellowish hue still remains (on only about 70% of the nail now), the stench that once lingered on that foot is gone, and in about a year, I should see full recovery of the toe. No more odor sprays, Vicks VapoRub, missing nails, and mortifying beach days. But the most liberating part of all? Socks-free sex for the win.