I Got a Medical Pedicure and My Feet Have Never Looked Better

They're baby soft.

THE SPLURGE: Why A Medical Pedicure Is Totally Worth It
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

"I have really bad feet," is how patients often greet Marcela Correa, a licensed medical pedicurist and owner of Medi Pedi, a medical-grade pedicure practice in Manhattan.

I am one of said patients. Living in New York, I put my feet through it because I walk everywhere, and more often than not, I prioritize fashionable shoes over supportive, comfortable sneakers. Needless to say, my dry cracked heels and calluses still look rough after a pedicure –— even if I pay extra for callus removal.

So heading into the open-toe shoe season, I figured there's no better time than now to pay a visit to Correa for a medical pedicure, a $200 treatment that is nothing like the standard pedicure at your neighborhood salon.

What Is a Medical Pedicure?

While a medical pedicure is still relaxing, the environment at Medi Pedi is more like a doctor's office than a traditional spa. There are no massage chairs or nail polish walls. Instead, the procedure combines that of a traditional pedicure with podiatry care, including treating calluses, cross toes, bunions, athlete's foot, ingrown nails, nail discoloration, and nail fungus.

"Medical pedicures are customized to what your feet need as opposed to just simple aesthetics. They're specific and very thorough, paying close attention to the health of your nails and skin not just how they 'look,'" Correa says. "A medical pedicure is also centered around prevention. Medical nail technicians performing the service have been trained under a podiatrist and can detect things like nail fungus, athlete's foot, calluses, and corns, as well as educate you on treating and preventing them at home."

For people who have underlying conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cancer, medical pedicures are a safe option as there's a minimal risk of cuts or infections, which could compromise their health.

What Happens During a Medical Pedicure?

First, Correa examined my feet for any immediate red flags. She noticed I had minor cross toes from years of wearing narrow shoes and recommended I wear guards to correct the alignment of my toes. She also pointed out my calluses and dry cracked heels, which were obvious to even the untrained eye.

Then, Correa and her assistant got to work. First, they removed the red nail polish from my nails and applied a nourishing cream to my heels with rubber guards on top to help it penetrate the skin. Next, Correa removed any dead skin, corns, and calluses, then moisturized my feet. Once they were soft, my toes were cleaned (including underneath the nail) and a hand-held drill was used to smooth the surface of my nails. An oil was then used to condition the cuticles. Correa finished the treatment by buffing away the cracks on my heels and slathering another nourishing cream on my feet. The toenails aren't painted and left bare.

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Why Should You Get a Medical Pedicure?

While my feet were so soft and smooth that they looked like I had just come out of the womb, aesthetics are just a minor part of why getting a medical pedicure is worth it. Correa provided me with a callus cream and buffer to take home and use post-medical pedicure to keep my calluses under control, and recommended rubber guards to wear to correct the alignment of my toes. She also pointed out that I had a vertical ridge on one of my toenails that I should get checked out by a dermatologist to ensure it's not a sign of an underlying condition, such as liver disease.

"Essentially, my team and I 'prep' the feet to be treated by the client's doctor. More often than not, the clients that come to see us have either been recommended by their doctor or leave with a doctor recommendation from us," Correa explains. "We have many fields that we network in, like, but not limited to, podiatrists, orthopedics, internal medicine, dermatologists, oncologists, endocrinologists, and more."

Correa tells me that she doesn't want to see patients once a month unless they're dealing with conditions that need regular maintenance, like ingrown nails or athlete's foot. Instead, she compares herself to a dental hygienist and recommends getting a medical pedicure every six to eight weeks to maintain their long-term foot health.

It's only been a week, but I'm already looking forward to my next treatment.

The Splurge is our recurring column dedicated to expensive beauty products that are worth it. This week, why a medical pedicure is worth it, despite the $200 price tag.

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