By Ron McCulloch
The London Podiatry Centre was recently featured in this article in The Voice in December:
"YOU'VE GOT it going on. Sundress with platforms. Your feet pedicure with no corns," croon 90s R'n'B trio, Next, on their hit Butta Love.
It is opinion echoed by many men around the country in search of a woman who exhibits perfection all the way down to her feet.
As a result, women are put under an increasing amount of pressure to conform to such specifications, which is arguably a contributory factor to the rise in cosmetic foot surgery in the United Kingdom.
"There are some patients out there who become so obsessed about the look of their feet that it actually becomes a traumatic experience," says Ron McCulloch (B.Sc, F.C.Pod.S), podiatric surgeon and director of the London Podiatry centre in Lewisham, south London.
"In many respects, foot deformation can be as painful as physical pain so the rewards and happiness that women get from cosmetic surgery on the foot can be equally as great as patients who are alleviated from pain."
McCulloch, who has been a consultant podiatric surgeon for over 17 years, has noted a significant rise in numbers of women seeking a surgical answer to their foot problems since the opening of his surgery in 1992.
"I think it's because people didn't know surgery was possible. A lot of women simply accepted that they had to live with the way that their feet were.
"I've seen many patients who have some very unsightly, painful legions on their feet who have finally discovered that there is a solution."
Amongst the most common problems cited by patients, who by McCulloch's own admission are made up mostly of black women between the ages of 20-45, are bunions, corns, hammer toes and claw toes.
"Unfortunately, black girls have long, narrow feet and to buy a shoe that fits properly and snugly, the shoe has to be brought short because if it's the right length it just falls off your foot and this could be a real issue."
"When you get a legion on a toe it often becomes slightly discoloured in darker skin types and as a consequence the cosmetic implications are far greater."
"This problem has been solved to a greater extent in America where narrower sizes are available." he said.
With a recovery period of as little as two weeks for the most minor of surgeries, such rectification of said problems is an attainable goal for many women who have suffered in silence and been ridiculed for so long. But McCulloch is quick to point out that invasive surgery is usually the last resort.
"It's my job to tell you what the problem is and to solve that problem without any invasive treatment.
"If it turns out that the only solution is surgery then it's extremely important that the patient understands the implications and the possible complications of surgery."
Despite boasting a successful surgical record and an even more impressive and fully equipped theatre facility and the most advanced podiatric gate room in the country, McCulloch admits that there is a slight chance of infection and other associated risks when patients undergo surgery.
"Once the implications and complications have been discussed, I usually provide all sorts of written information including official booklets from our professional organisations and I give the patient to read those in detail.
"If the patient decides that they want to proceed with surgery, we'll schedule them in." He said.
Depending on the type of operation the patient receives, such procedures could set prospective customers back somewhere in the region of 1,000 upwards, usually stopping at the 3,000 mark.
McCulloch also notes that the stigmas associated with foot problems isn't exclusive to women with men also making up a strong section of his clientele.
"Although it's not quite as common as ladies, there are certainly men who have issues as well.
"All sorts of toe deformities like bunions and hammer toes occur in men as well. If a man likes to wear a narrow shoe that can be an issue, but I think that there is a larger percentage of men that have genetic issues with their toe functions."
"We pride ourselves on being a service that deals with all aspects of foot pathology, foot diseases and foot-related diseases, not only cosmetic.
"Patients come to see us with everything from a back condition to a sports injury as we work with a lot of Premiership football teams," he added.
"We have specialist skills in surgery and we pride ourselves on only moving towards a surgical solution after everything has been exhausted.
"In terms of surgery we always carry out the most advanced techniques so that there's a minimal risk of scarring using some of the top surgeons from around the world.
"Cosmetic surgery is about allowing the foot to become what is considered normal again."