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Cosmetic foot surgery to fit into heels

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From kitten heels to six-inch platforms, high heels come in all shapes and sizes, and many women love them. The problem: they aren't good for your feet.

Now some women are so desperate to fit into their favorite pair of shoes they will go under the knife to do it.

The shows make feet look sexy and legs look longer, so for the right pair of shoes, most women will endure a certain amount of pain.

Carol Frye said the pain caused by an oversized toe became more than she could bear in the name of fashion. So she turned to Dr. Oliver Zong, a Manhattan podiatrist. He specializes not just in treating foot pain, but cosmetic foot surgery.

That's right: people are going under the knife to better fit into their favorite pair of heels. The procedure, nicknamed the foot facelift, is growing in popularity.

"A lot of times it was patients wanted to get into you know fashionable shoes, and things of that sort, or it was the result of wearing fashionable shoes too long," Dr. Zong said. He added that the fashionable shoes we see on the runway aren't exactly made for walking.

"Your Jimmy Choos, your Christian Louboutins, those sort of shoes, shoes generally not made for the normal foot," he said. "So what ends up happening is if your foot type doesn't match that shoe type often times your foot will take on the shape of that shoe, and that is where the foot deformities occur."

Fixing those deformities is what brought Belinda Cozier-Fingal to Dr. Zong.

"There is absolutely no flesh there. It was just bones projecting out," Cozier-Fingal said. "I guess from wearing a lot of heels and pointed tip shoes because those were my favorite, pointed tip shoes. Those put a lot of strain on my foot."

Dr. Zong filed down the bones in her toes and rebuilt the fat around them.

"I have one pair of stilettos that I really really like and I'm really hoping to be able to put my foot back in those," Cozier-Fingal said. "Really hoping."

Now Cozier-Fingal is able to slip on her favorite pair of stilettos.

And Frye is also enjoying the results of the foot facelift.

"I'm now able to wear whatever shoes I want, dress them up go out and have fun and enjoy the evening," Frye said.

The surgery does have its critics. Dr. William Speilfogel, the director for the Foundation of Podiatric Medicine, said the foot facelift is unnecessary surgery and poses health risks.

"Doing surgery just to fit into a pair of shoes I don't think really is a wise decision," Dr. Speilfogel said. "There is possibility of getting an infection of pain, there is swelling."

But Dr. Zong said his patients are aware of the risks.

"They want those high heels just the same way they want that smaller nose, or their other body parts augmented or anything," Dr. Zong said. "They want it. It is for self-esteem purposes."

For those shoe lovers looking to avoid surgery, Dr. Zong offers one piece of advice, though you may not like it: Stop wearing those high heels!

"Generally the higher the heel that you wear the more pressure you're going to be putting on the front of your foot," Dr. Zong said. "The more potential damage you can cause." 

Dr. Zong isn't telling you to wear flats or flip flops either. He said that for many women very flat shoes can actually cause arch and heel pain. The optimal heel height is about two and a half inches.

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