Nail techs can work magic when it comes to beautifying the feet and easing everyday aches, but even the best magicians have their limits. That’s when medical intervention may be called for. Using a combination of peels, lasers, microdermabrasion, sclerotherapy, fillers, and fat graphing, board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Emer is transforming hard, dull, and aging feet to their glory days at his Beverly Hills, Calif., office. As a result of his ministrations, painful cracked heels become soft and smooth again, spider veins disappear, and dry, discolored, or wrinkled skin becomes plump, shiny, and new. He even gives high-heel wearers a lift by injecting the bottoms of their feet with fillers for added cushion and support.
Termed “Heel-to-Toe Rejuvenation,” Dr. Emer’s program consists of a series of treatments tailored to the patient’s individual foot needs. Typically, his patients for this type of treatment are women who come in complaining of foot pain or calluses. Most often the causes are standing all day (i.e., waitresses, hostesses, hairstylists, actresses, etc.), being out all night (i.e., club kids), or wearing very high heels. Once he addresses the pain, he completes a full examination and often finds prominent blood vessels, sunspots or freckling, wrinkles/crinkly skin, or rough texture, which then leads to a discussion of foot care and foot beauty. As Dr. Emer says, “The foot is trending to be the next hand; every woman wants her feet to look beautiful, especially in open-toed shoes, high-heels, or sandals.”
His patients have been as young as high school students who get Botox treatment and foot soaks for sweating and odor, as well as peels and at-home cream exfoliation to improve the texture of cracked heels. His older patients often have foot and heel pain due to loss of the fat pad under the foot associated with aging and putting pressure on our feet over time.
While the procedures are customized to individual need, there are six main treatments in Dr. Emer’s foot rejuvenation arsenal.
1. Fillers for the bottom of the foot for pain (it improves corns as it gives a cushion), as well as fillers for the top of the foot to camouflage the enlarged tendons often seen with aging.
2. Peels or laser treatments to exfoliate the skin, improve wrinkling, sun damage, and pigmentation/sunspots.
3. Sclerotherapy or laser treatments for enlarged veins or abnormally shaped spider-type blood vessels. Says Dr. Emer: “I have two special devices, VeinViewer and AccuVein, that I use to highlight vessels at the top of the skin and as deep as 10mm. This allows me to see if there are any underlying issues causing foot swelling or pain, and guides treatment with my lasers and injectable medications to dissolve the veins.”
4. Botox treatments for sweating, foot odor, and/or to prevent fungal disease. These are especially good for diabetics or those with blood vessel issues in the lower legs.
5. Foot creams to apply twice daily for exfoliation, which over time leaves the skin of the foot — particularly the heel — feeling soft and smooth.
6. Nail care, which can include anything from proper pedicure recommendations to laser treatment advice. It also might involve utilizing oral pills for fungal nails and foot soaks to remove any odor and avoid potential foot infections. This is particularly good for people who are on their feet all day, especially with occlusive footwear and socks.
These treatments are not exclusively reserved for his female patients. “Men don’t bring up the look of their feet as often as women; however, men still worry about the texture and the tone, as well as nail care,” says Dr. Emer. “Chemical peels and topical exfoliating creams leave the skin feeling soft and smooth, and this is where I typically start treatment for men. Improvements are noted so quickly that they start asking for the next available options, and then we progress to nail care and filler treatments if they have heel or foot pain, or Botox treatments for sweating.”
Since the treatment routine will vary, there is no set price. To give you an idea of the costs involved, some foot creams for everyday use range from $15-$75 each, a chemical peel can run about $150-$300 per treatment, and leg vein injections for a small area are roughly $300-$500 per treatment.
The time required to heal will vary. According to Dr. Emer, in general, a series of one to three treatments will optimize the skin, veins, and nails, followed by maintenance treatments every three to six months thereafter. “It all depends on the condition being treated. If it is just rejuvenation without any specific problem, typically treatments every two to three months will keep the foot’s skin healthy and glowing,” he says.