Webbed Toes (Syndactyly): Causes, Treatments, and FAQs

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What Exactly are Webbed Toes

Birth abnormalities can be found all over the body, including the feet. In fact, babies are born every year with web toes, making it one of the most common birth abnormalities. Since it is a relatively frequent abnormality found in babies, researchers have been trying to find the causes of web toes to create preventative measures. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available today. Well Heeled takes a closer look at this.

Syndactyly refers to the webbing of toes or fingers. Although it is most often found in the toes or fingers, webbing of other body parts can also happen, including bones, muscles, blood vessels, and nerve webbing.
Medical conditions can cause Syndactyly, but most often, it is because of a birth abnormality.
Webbing can also be a symptom of a variety of syndromes, including:

● Crouzon syndrome
● Apert syndrome
● Down syndrome

Webbed toes can also be inherited. Interestingly, webbed toes are more common among boys than girls and are most often found in Caucasians.

Even though webbing of the toes can happen between any of the toes, it is more common between the second and third toes on the foot.
What are the symptoms of webbed toes?

Naturally, not all webbed toes carry the same symptoms. That is why researchers have categorized possible symptoms to include the following:

● Bilateral or unilateral webbing of the toes

It isn’t uncommon for someone with webbed toes to have Syndactyly on both feet. However, people with webbed toes often have one foot with webbed toes and one foot with normal toes. The reason why one foot might exhibit webbed toes and the other not remains unknown.

● Mild, moderate, or severe webbing

The severity of webbing can differ significantly, ranging from a slight joining at the toe’s base to a severe fusion of the entire toes. Moderate webbing would be a partial fusion of the toes.
● Complex or simple webbing

The complexity of the webbing of toes would depend on whether the bones, nerves, and blood vessels have become fused or not. Sometimes a simple webbing of the toes would involve some fusion of the blood vessels without any bones being webbed together. However, there would be a fusion of multiple bones, blood vessels, and nerves in more complex cases.

● Painless or painful webbing

There are lots of people with webbed toes that experience no pain. But, unfortunately, some people suffer a great deal of pain because of their Syndactyly. Of course, if someone is dealing with endless pain because of webbed toes, it could impact their daily life, making it hard for them to move. This would be a clear indication that a treatment plan is needed so that there can be some relief.
What are the treatment options for webbed toes?

When a baby is born with webbed toes, a doctor would most often recommend corrective surgery between 12 and 18 months. The reason for doing the surgery at such a young age is to prevent joint malformation. However, if webbed toes were ignored at birth, they can still be fixed later on in life. That is why adults can still undergo corrective surgery on their webbed toes, although it would probably be a more complicated surgery with more recovery time required.

With babies and adults alike, a doctor will order an ultrasound or an x-ray to understand the webbed toes’ structures better. This will enable the doctor to establish what the best approach for surgery will be. In addition, the doctor might order chromosomal tests and blood tests if webbed toes are found on a baby. Again, this is to eliminate syndromic conditions. When it comes to the surgical approach for the webbed toes, it will depend on the severity and complexity of the webbing.

What is the most typical procedure to be done for webbed toes?
Most often, a surgeon will cut through the fusion of the toes. A zigzag cutting style is preferred that runs along with the midline point of the webbing. If the surgeon notices any further fusion, it will be dealt with by continuing with zigzag-style cuts.

Depending on the size and severity of the incisions and cuts, a surgeon might transplant small sections of healthy skin or stitch a skin graft over the exposed flesh. This can offer valuable protection against infection and boost recovery time. In addition, these methods can also minimize the scarring left by the surgery because it assists in reducing any tension as healing progresses. If a surgeon feels that a skin graft will be best, the back of the patient’s upper arm or an area of the inner groin is the most commonly used.

It isn’t unusual for a webbed toe surgery to be concluded by adding a few layers of protective bandage and a cast. A cast can be extremely valuable during recovery time because it helps to keep the toes in place by immobilizing them. This not only keeps them safe from possible injury but also improves their recovery time.

Depending on the complexity of the surgery, corrective surgery of webbed toes can last anything between two and five hours.
What is the recovery time of corrective surgery on webbed toes?

Children tend to have shorter recovery times than adults because the surgery isn’t as complicated, and there hasn’t been much joint malfunction. Therefore, children are usually required to stay in the hospital for observation only for a day or two after the surgery. While at the hospital, the child will be carefully monitored for any signs of infection or allergic reactions. Once the child seems to have recovered from the surgery, a discharge will be advised. After that, it is usual for the child to be sent home with pain medication.

Adults who undergo corrective webbed toe surgery will most likely be kept in the hospital for a day or two. After that, however, more frequent check-ups will most likely be recommended.


Webbed toes are most commonly a birth abnormality that can be corrected with surgery. However, since it is a more straightforward process with children with fewer long-term risks, it is advised that the parents of children with webbed toes consider correcting them before adulthood.

About Me

Founder of Well Heeled - I have a great interest in diabetes and the effect on those diagnosed as well as those around them. With over 20 years in health and social care, as a qualified social worker and as a passionate educator within the health and social care sector, I wanted to bring further information to others around diabetes and other issues.

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