Stepping up: As the 8in stiletto is launched, meet the women who insist they need the designer feet to match... | Daily Mail Online mens louboutin
Stepping up: As the 8in stiletto is launched, meet the women who insist they need the designer feet to match...
Sadie Nicholas for MailOnline
23:50 GMT, 19 October 2008
Like many fashion-savvy women her age, 23-year-old Khadisha Shelton loves shoes.
She scans fashion magazines to see the latest styles on the catwalk, and eagerly saves up to purchase her favourites as soon as they arrive on the High Street. But this winter, and right at the top of Khadisha's wish list, is something rather more extreme.
Instead of searching for the perfect Gina or Christian Louboutin shoes, Khadisha is in pursuit of the perfect feet in order to display her purchases to their best advantage - and she is willing to go under the knife to achieve it.
High-heel addict: Khadisha Shelton is spending £2,700 to shorten her toes
In a matter of weeks, Khadisha will undergo cosmetic surgery to shorten her toes.
The operation - a gruelling three hours long, where surgeons will use a saw to slice segments from her bones - costs a staggering £2,700, and it could take months before she can walk properly again. But, for fashion-obsessed Khadisha, it is a price worth paying.
'When I look down at my feet, I just can't stand them - and I hate that if I wear strappy shoes, all their flaws are on show to everyone else,' says Khadisha, a 23-year-old accountant from South London.
'The worst thing about them are my two second toes. On each foot they're bigger than my big toe, and I'm just too embarrassed to wear all the really lovely "peep-toe" styles that are so fashionable right now.
'Also, I've got corns on all my toes from years of wearing pointy stilettos, some of my toes aren't straight and I hate the way some are longer than others. I'm going to have the whole lot sorted in one go.
'I know it sounds extreme - and the operation does scare me a little, as I don't like the thought of, perhaps, not being able to walk for up to six months afterwards, but for me, it really is a price worth paying for pretty feet.'
Worryingly, Khadisha is only one of a number of young women turning to plastic surgeons to correct typically troublesome complaints such as 'cankles' (calves that appear to go straight into the foot), bunions and unattractive toes - and they are willing to pay extortionate sums to have their feet chiselled, chopped and filed into submission.
Many, are even resorting to having Botox injected into them, to plump the balls of the feet and cure pain, so that high heels can be worn for longer.
With a growing trend for ever higher heels on the High Street, surgeons at the Harley Medical Group, the UK's biggest provider of cosmetic surgery, have seen a nine per cent increase in patients requesting liposuction - and many of those are women opting to have fat sucked out of their ankles and lower calves, in the hope of correcting shapeless cankles.
And specialist clinic Cosmetic Foot Surgery UK admits it is seeing a huge demand for procedures to correct bunions, bent and deformed toes and flat feet - often problems actually caused by years of wearing high heels in the first place.
'I hate my long toes so I'm having them shortened'
'Some patients come through with short toes that they would like lengthened, or they want to have their 'toe cascades' [the curve at the end of the foot, from the big toe down to the little toe] improved, so that when they wear strappy sandals their toes don't look out of place,' says Nigel Mercer, president of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS).
Indeed, with shoe fashions becoming ever more extreme - designer Christian Louboutin yesterday announced his plans to produce a pair of 8in tall stilettos, claimed to be the highest heels in mainstream fashion, while Victoria Beckham was seen wearing another eye-watering pair of heels; 5in Louboutin studded ankle-strap creations - operations to counteract their effects, or at least prepare the wearer for them, are gathering a following.
For Khadisha, her surgery was a combination of both. Having been a high-heel addict from the age of 17, her feet were suffering increasingly from blisters and corns.
Stepping up: Posh wore 5in designer heels while out for dinner with husband David Beckham last week
'I just love high heels, it's as simple as that. But at the end of every day my feet would be in agony and my toes on fire. I'll never forget the night I went out dancing with my friends in my strappy pink heels from the High Street shoe store, Faith. After a couple of hours, I couldn't walk and spent the rest of the night sitting watching my friends have fun.
'My GP told me I had to wear trainers or flat shoes, but I was never going to listen to that. Instead, I looked for other solutions.
'I spent £200 on plasters, pads and even got a cream sent over from the U.S. But my corns resisted. I even tried cutting one off with a razor blade but the pain was unbearable and I had to stop.'
It was then that Khadisha started thinking about the possibility of cosmetic surgery - and after visiting the Premier Foot & Ankle Centre, in London, decided to combine her corn surgery with shortening her toes.
'My bunions were among the worst my GP had seen'
'It does sound radical - but why not get rid of my corns and make my feet look beautiful at the same time. It's the perfect solution - and well worth the money I've saved for it.'
Amy Hemingway is another casualty of too many years of wearing high heels. The 26-year-old design assistant from West London, was in high heels up to 18 hours a day, five days a week for ten years - and has the bunions and serious knee problems to prove it.
'Wearing high heels has been so bad for me, that right now, my bunions are so large and painful that even if I wanted to, I couldn't put on my favourite stilettos.
'My addiction to high heels has literally almost destroyed my health. When I was younger being fashionable was so important. I was obsessed with owning the latest heels and have spent thousands of pounds (from my earnings, and sometimes on credit cards) on hundreds of pairs, from wedges to stilettos to platforms.
'But like many women who wear heels I developed bunions on both feet.
Actress Gwyneth Paltrow (left) and singer Gwen Stefani are both known for their love of ultra-high heels
'Initially I ignored the pain and kept squeezing my feet into fashionable shoes. But in my early 20s I noticed my knees and hips were becoming painful too and when, one morning last year, I was driving to work and my knees seized up completely I went to my GP.
'He said my bunions were among the worst he'd ever seen and were causing me to walk differently, which was putting pressure on my knees, hips and back. He prescribed strong painkillers as a temporary solution, but what I really need is a bunionectomy to slice them off.
'At the moment the operation can cost around £2,000 - and with the increased cost of living and the credit crunch, I just don't have the ready cash available, or the time to take six weeks off work to recover. But I'm desperate for the operation and hopefully I'll have it soon. I can't bear that I can't wear my stilettoes at the moment, I just don't feel sexy without them.'
But how many women are actually aware of the dangers surrounding the plastic surgery they so desire to make their feet look more attractive?
Cosmetic surgeon Dr Mike Comins, of hansplace.com, is particularly perturbed at the number of women willing to risk their health for perfect feet.
'What these women must remember is that any operation - especially one done under general anaesthetic, carries risks.
'And the feet are one of the most sensitive areas of the body. Any surgery performed there can take a long time to heal. For example, if a woman wanted her toes shortened, it could take months to heal and her feet would most certainly be swollen for much of that time.
Actress Pamela Anderson is another celebrity fond of wearing very high heels
'If a woman came to me asking for that surgery, purely for cosmetic reasons, I would turn her away. The operations are intrusive and almost always involve some sort of hacking away at the bones of the feet - which by its very nature carries a degree of risk.
'Similarly, liposuction on the ankles can also be dangerous, or take some time to heal. Often women mistake fat around their ankle, or "cankles", for fluid. Sticking a large needle in to drain whatever fat is there is likely to cause swelling which can take maybe a month to go down.
'Or indeed, if it is just fluid, it can be removed. But again, there will be a degree of swelling - and actually, removing fluid could just make the problem worse as the body will just produce more to replace it (perhaps even more than existed originally). Obviously there are other ways to sculpt ungainly ankles, such as surgery to shave the ankle bone down.
'However, this is an extremely painful operation - and is not probably worth the recovery time.
'The most popular surgery I perform is liposuction on lower calves, often on women who complain they can't get knee-high boots to fit round their legs. But it is much easier to identify fat in the calves, far less intrusive, and the recovery time at three to four weeks, much quicker.
'If any woman came to me for an operation on their feet, purely in the name of fashion, I would urge them to think very carefully.'
Yet, in the U.S. - where the trend for feet surgery first took off - there seems no dampening in trade.
There, patients are even undergoing operations to narrow their feet, in order to fit into the slimmer European shoe styles such as those made by Manolo Blahnik (whose creations were made so famous by the diminutive Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex And The City) and feel, in the words of a former patient 'prettier'.
High-flying British barrister and parttime judge Constance Briscoe boarded a plane for New York last April to undergo just such surgery. For the sum of £11,000, she transformed her 'broad and flat' feet into narrow and elegant creations.
'My partner Tony thought it was complete and utter madness,' says Constance, 50.
'He said I needed to have my head tested and refused to take me to the airport, but I was determined to have it done. I've had a thing about my feet since I was a child. They were too broad and I wanted to be able to wear nice shoes.
'I had to go to the U.S. because you can't get the operation in Britain. They think it's just vanity, which it is, but that's no reason for not having the operation. If you can have your boobs enhanced, why can't they just snip a bit off your feet?'
At the foot clinic in New York, Constance had the bones on the outsides of her feet shaved down to make them narrower, and the middle joints of some of the toes removed and then pinned. It was, she admits, extremely painful.
For three months her feet were encased in protective boots, she couldn't work and she had to walk on crutches. She says she still can't quite get into normal shoes, but insists it was worth every penny.
'It may seem extreme to some, but being able to love my feet was part of the way to learning to love myself.'
But is the huge expense and months of recovery really worth it?
Vanessa Leuthold, a 36-year-old personal stylist from Surrey, now suffers crippling back pain thanks to her addiction to high heels.
'Regardless of whether my feet are blister-free or perfect-looking, wearing high heels has crippled me,' she says.
>'Whichever shoes I wear, and however comfortable I think they are at the beginning of the day, I end up hobbling home. My love of fashionable shoes combined with carrying bags full of clothes and footwear around London for clients has left me with terrible back pain.
'Sometimes I even struggle to lift up my daughter Ruby, now four - and in the past few months I've spent more than £400 on treatment at a local osteopath. It has helped a bit, but I just can't give up the heels.
'My doctor has warned me that I risk doing myself permanent damage, but I tried wearing trainers for a while and I felt ugly. So I'll just have to grit my teeth through the pain.'
And that is something that no operation can fix.
Share or comment on this article
Most watched News videos
Oxford Street Selfridges shoppers scream and crouch on floor
Black Friday: Brawl at The Riverchase Galleria in Alabama
Doctor explains what acute myeloid leukaemia is
Sinai mosque attack victims being treated at the hospital
Shocking video of elephant trampling man to death in India
'F****** terrorists': Jane Miller's foul-mouthed rant at saboteurs
Shocking moment armed robbers jump woman lured out of home
Horrifying video shows beagle being mauled to death by vicious dogs
Shocking CCTV shows woman stabbed to death in front of daughter
'We will keep going': Rough family's statement after sentencing
Theresa May to hold fresh talks with Donald Tusk in Brussels
When French fashion designer Christian Louboutin launched his namesake label in the 1990s, his eye-gripping high heels with red soles became an instant sensation. Many Christian Louboutin shoes are accented with studded straps, feathers, bows, and the signature red soles popularly known as "sammy-red bottoms."
The collection of Christian Louboutin pumps and sandals feature the typical high heels associated with the label's style, adorned with spike, flame, and marbled designs, while also offering lower-heeled boots, edgy ballerina flats, and youthful beaded sneakers.
Neiman Marcus offers a fabulous selection from the Christian Louboutin collection, including Christian Louboutin boots, pumps, and booties available in dazzling styles and designs.