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What's the Difference Between a Medical Pedicure and a Regular Pedicure?

Medical pedicures are popular in Europe but almost unheard of here in the U.S. While we know what to expect during a typical pedicure at a nail salon, most people on this side of the pond have no idea what to expect from a medical pedicure. To further confuse things, most of the medical pedicures offered in America today, are basically a salon pedicure, performed in a medical setting. A true medical pedicure is vastly different. This beneficial service has a few key elements and features that you won’t find in a salon pedicure. The following article will highlight these differences, and help you decide if a medical pedicure is right for you.


Medical Pedicure vs Salon Pedicure, how they differ:


#1. Medical pedicures are performed by a doctor, not a nurse, or a technician, or a specially-trained medical assistant. This is important since a true medical pedicure involves the use of scalpels, double action nail splitters, electric sanders, and other sharp instrumentation.


#2. Medical pedicures include an examination of your feet, including a basic neurovascular and musculoskeletal evaluation. You may not even realize that’s happening, as the doctor typically check pulses, skin turgor, etc. in a simple, comfortable manner. Even the healthiest people may have bunions or hammertoes, odd bumps or unusual skin discolorations that they’ve been concerned with. At a Medical Pedicure, you learn more about your feet, and can often get started on any treatment or appropriate referrals. The foot exam evaluates for:

  • Proper and adequate circulation/blood flow

  • Proper and adequate nerve function

  • Signs and symptoms of infection (ie bacterial, fungal, or viral)

  • Signs and symptoms of skin pathologies (ie callus, corns, eczema/dermatitis)

  • Signs and symptoms of nail abnormalities (ie thickened toenails, ingrown toenails, discolored toenails)


#3. Corns and calluses are simply shaved or filed in a salon pedicure. However medical pedicures can fully remove them to a safe and comfortable level. Surgical scalpels are used for painless, precise excision.

Beyond that, electric filing and sanding are often used to remove thick hardened skin on the heels or weight bearing areas of the feet.


#4. Medical Pedicures hold aseptic technique paramount. Nowadays, all pedicures are done with sterilized instruments (or should be). But at a medical pedicure, you’re in a doctor’s office, where everything from the chair you sit in, to the tools used, and even the room air quality has been optimized for health. Since medical pedicures happen in a doctor’s office, and all instruments used are medical grade. They are cleaned in a three step process that starts with a wire brush scrub and wash, followed by chemical disinfection, and finally an autoclave sterilization. Other products used in a medical pedicure are single use and generally tend to be good for you, including hypo allergenic lotions, and nail products with naturally antifungal ingredients. Regular pedicures often use whirlpools, which can harbor bacteria, even if they've had a bleach cleaning. Medi-pedi uses aseptic skin preps and mollifying skin pads to clean and soften thick nails and calluses.

#5. Medical pedicures, include skin moisturizer application and nail strengthener application but they generally they do not include polish application. Polish can be an add on service, however the tenet of a medical pedicure is foot health.


Who Should Get a Medical Pedicure?

  • People who prefer a private setting. You’re in a doctor’s office, with no random neighbors sitting next to you, checking out your toes, talking on their phone, etc. You have the room to yourself and whoever you bring with you.

  • People with Psoriasis, Eczema or Dermatitis.

  • Diabetics

  • People who are on their feet all day.

  • Runners and Walkers

  • Dancers - At Ace Feet, we are aware of how important calluses are to dancers! We do not take a blind approach and shave off every callus. We have worked with several patients who are or have been professional dancers and tailor the medical pedicure procedures as needed.

  • People who have particular concerns about their feet. At a medical pedicure, the doctor is examining and evaluating the feet. This includes checking for and providing treatment options for any fungal or other infection.

  • People who have undergone chemotherapy and have sensitive, discolored, or tender feet.

  • People with arthritis of their feet.


A medical pedicure is focused making your feet feel better. Although it is not meant to mimic a spa treatment, it can be a relaxing experience. Most people leave the office feeling much more comfortable than when they arrived. You could say, a medical pedicure is a way to pamper yourself in a health-conscious way.

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