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Should My Daughter Separate Her Toes? (Syndactyly)

syndactylyThis past week Miss LukeTeen28 (my eldest daughter) popped the question my wife and I have been anticipating for the past 12 years since the day of her birth. No, she doesn’t want to have a boyfriend. (We’ve told her she can’t date until she’s 30!) Her interest is in a cosmetic surgery to correct a condition known as Syndactyly – the fusion of one or more toes.

Syndactyly 101

“Syndactyly” is the medical term for this condition. Hers is a simple fusing of soft tissue between the second and third toes on both feet (the left is more pronounced than the right). The issue appears to be genetic in nature, as I know of one other person in my extended family who has this condition.

She is in no pain or discomfort from her syndactyly and the risks are miniscule. The surgery would be completely for cosmetic purposes. (So when she wears her sandals the doofus middle school boys at school aren’t tempted to call her “four toes.”) Maybe the fact that she is almost a teen is figuring into her asking about the procedure now.

To some, it may seem silly to spend money on a procedure that isn’t necessary to improve one’s quality of life. Liposuction, Botox treatments, and other medical procedures are performed each day by physicians across the country on people who just want to “look good.” According to reports, Americans spent $10.4 billion on cosmetic surgeries in 2011. That’s a lot of looking good.

She is seeking opinions about this from all sources. She knows it will cost money for the procedure and is curious what my thrifty conscious blogging friends think. We’ve told her for years that if she ever wants to have these separated we would pay for it. But I think she might still be a bit hesitant.

What do you think? Should she go ahead with the procedure or just live with it? Have any of you dealt with this medical condition before? If so, how was the procedure?

(11/13/14 Update: She has decided to keep them together for now.)

(11/23/15) Update: The discussion has not come up again. She seems content to keep them as they are.)

Questions: Would you do cosmetic surgery if you had an issue like syndactyly to correct? If not, why? Under what circumstances might you consider it?

Now on to some great reading suggestions for your weekend.

The Road To Prosperity is not really a road as Krant Cents explains in this post. Figuring out the goal and plan will be the big challenge.

Shannon at The Heavy Purse wonders At What Age Should Your Teen Get a Job? I’m thinking that too as I will have my first teen shortly.

Every parent struggles with How to Motivate Picky Eaters in Your Family.  Katrina at Canadian Budget Binder offers some very practical suggestions.

Looking to advance in your career or possible change altogether? Miranda at Prairie Eco-Thrifter shares 6 Steps for Creating a More Successful Career.

Don’t forget to drop by tomorrow morning for an inspirational word in my Hidden Nuggets series.

Until then, have a great Saturday!

Next Post: Sometimes I Trust in the Wrong Things

Prior Post: Trayvon, Zimmerman and Our Road to Healing

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  1. I know you will never publish this comment. I wouldn’t either if I was a controlling and as backward thinking as you are.

    Here’s my point: No dating until she’s 30! You’re kidding right?

    If you’re not kidding, be prepared for a firestorm later. By that I mean she will start dating in her late teens and be married before she’s 20.

  2. Student Debt Survivor says

    When I was little was running to the bathroom in my dad’s office and my foot got caught on the rug. I fell face (well forehead) first into a 2 inch solid wooden door (the old ones that were thick and well made). I was rushed to the ER where they stitched it up. They told my worried mother that it wouldn’t scar. It did. It’s not a huge scar, but my mother was so freaked out about “scaring” me that she had me wear bangs for years to cover it up. In high school it was something that I was self conscious about, but I eventually decided that I wasn’t going to hide it anymore. The funny part, when I grew out my bangs most people didn’t even notice.

    If she wants to have the surgery because it’s something she wants, go for it! But if she’s only doing it for the middle school boys… tell those boys she’s the smartest and most unique “4-toed” young lady they’ll never have the honor of dating.

  3. Personally, I have had a huge scar on my stomach since I was born – it was from surgery at 4 hours old. As a result, I’ve never worn anything that shows my stomach (such as a bikini) because I’ve been terribly self conscious about it. Getting changed in the locker room was anxiety inducing for me. Thankfully, the guys I’ve dated couldn’t have cared less, which meant a lot to me as I thought it was a huge deal. So I can understand why your daughter might feel pressured about being “different” to others. I know my scar can be fixed by cosmetic surgery, but at this point it’s been a part of me for so long that I’ve accepted it. I’m unique because of it, and I just wear regular bathing suits to avoid questions.

    My situation is a tad different in that as long as I was still growing I couldn’t get the surgery, and by the time I was 18 it just wasn’t an issue anymore. When I first looked at the picture you provided I didn’t even notice (pretty nail polish!), so at the end of the day I think everyone else has it right. She should do what makes her happy for her own self – not because of external motivators.

    • It’s really not noticeable, especially on the right foot. There is hardly any connection there. I don’t think she feels pressured yet. I think she just wants to do the procedure for herself. Thanks for sharing your story.

  4. Hey everyone…this is Miss LukeTeen28,

    Thanks for the advice. I really appreciate it. It helps me know that people think this is a decision I should make for myself. I’ll let you know what i decide. 🙂

  5. Simon @Modest Money says

    I would support her in whichever decision she made. Additionally as you point out, its a simple cosmetic surgery and if it would make her happier, I’d say go for it!
    Thanks for the mention, glad you found the post helpful

  6. CanadianBudgetBinder says

    You know if it makes her happy then I say go for it. She is still young and she has her whole life ahead of her. Thanks for the mention.

  7. Devoted Uncle of Miss TeenLuke says


    In my opinion, if you want to make this a “teachable moment,” I would present the decision she is making in a different context.

    It’s very difficult for a young girl (indeed for nearly all kids in the pre-teen, teen, and even young adult stages) to make decisions based on “what she really wants” as opposed to “what she thinks others want.” By and large, most people, no matter their age and especially kids, DON’T know what they want, and what they do want is always based on a mixture of motivations (both inner/self directed and outer/other directed).

    Sometimes it is important that a child learn to make decisions based on what they want, but in other situations, a parent definitely wants the child to consider the desires, lives, even futures of other people (including the parent themselves) before the children make choices. (Extreme example: “Before you go out drinking and driving, think about all the other people who may get hurt because of your choice.”). Using “what do you want?” as a decision-making rubric can often be a confusing method for young kids who are starting to develop an awareness of the outside world.

    In this situation, perhaps you should get Miss TeenLuke to view her choice as “a decision that will have consequences that last a lifetime.” Given the fact that this situation doesn’t really have serious negative outcomes either way (4 toes vs. 5 toes?), she can have an opportunity to think about _consequences_ without the pressure of making a truly bad choice. Will she be happier throughout the rest of her life with the chance to wriggle 5 toes into the beach sand versus 4 toes? I say that tongue in cheek, but it would be a useful exercise for her to consider the impact of a choice she makes now upon her future life. As you know Brian, she will be making choices that will have that level of impact (driving, college, career, etc.) in just a few short years.

    Kids, as they get older, need to start considering the consequences of their decisions. In my profession, I see too many kids making poor decisions because, at the time, what they choose is what they (thought they) wanted. What we want in life changes throughout our lives, but often the effects of a poor choice will prevent us will enjoying our lives and prevent us from having better choices in the future.

    • Good points to consider. We don’t really care one way or the other. We’ve deliberately chosen not
      to talk about it to her through the years so that it would not appear
      like we are pressuring her. I think she has thought this through on her
      own and processed the implications of both sides.

  8. krantcents says

    These are the kind of decisions which makes me glad my children are grown. For a girl this is much more important than a boy. I think I would support the decision, but make sure it is done for the right reasons.

    Thanks for the links, I am in good company.

  9. I agree with Rita. I would support her as well, but emphasize how we all have parts of our bodies which we wish we could change and people won’t always “approve” of the way we look, and that if she wanted to do it make sure it was for herself.

  10. It really depends on your daughters wish, if she wants to pursue it I would support her as a parent. But I would tell her to ignore any doofus middle school boys comments. By the way Luke i must ask that have you really set the dating timeline age as 30 for her

    • Thanks for the thoughts Rita. She hasn’t really experienced any ridicule yet in elementary school but you never know when that sort of stuff starts.

      • I suffer with the same condition! I’m 26 I’ve never worn sandals or flip flops due to embarrassment. I often feel quite down over the fact I am different, at 13 I had metal rods put in back to correct a curved spine so growing up was difficult anyway. I am now looking into surgery. Has your daughter gone through with the surgery yet?

        I know exactly how she feels, I wish I had had the guts to say to my parents how much it affected me when I was her age.

        • Thanks for sharing Aimee. For the time being she does not seem interested in having the surgery done. She doesn’t feel self-conscious about it and is accepting of the fact this is how she was made. Her feelings may change in the future but for now she seems content with them staying together.

          • I have the same condition, thou mine is more on the right foot than the left, I’m 46 and thou I was was teased in my school years its never really bothered me, my son has just a little webbing on his right foot and I have 2 friends who have the same but it doesn’t effect any of us, it a bit difficult to cut my toe nails but apart from that it doesn’t effect me, I think my toes look cute lol and I’m not at all embarrassed, hope your daughter grows to believe that she unique and all the best to her and her future xx

            • Thanks for sharing your story Tina. For the time being she has chosen to not have the surgery. It really has not become an issue with her (or any of her friends – making fun of her).


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