1. If the toenail gets so thick that it stretches the root of the nail, called the "toenail matrix", then the toenail will be permanently thickened to some degree. The permanent toenail thickness cannot be changed even if the fungus is completely treated and removed. Although the fungus won't be growing in the toenail and causing the nail to expand and look much thicker, some portion of the toenail may just continue to grow out thicker than the original toenail. In this case, there can be some improvement, but maybe not 100% improvement in the thickness of the toenails.
2.. Often the toenail fungus infection leads to a portion of the toenail separating from the underlying nail bed. This can create a light colored or white area where there is space between the toenail and the nail bed. Although the toenail fungus can be treated, the toenail is not likely to completely re-attached to the nailbed underneath even after successful laser treatment. So in this case, the toenail does look a little different just because it has this light colored area.
Keeping theses possibilities in mind, it is important to realize that laser treatment can help. Given the condition of the toenails I would expect that laser treatment would help improve the condition of the nails by removing the fungus making the nails less brittle, less friable and thinner. However it would be important to recognize that some of the toenails may still be discolored or slightly thicker even if the fungus is completely removed.
Without treatment, toenail fungus generally just continues to get worse over time. But don't be fooled by doctors who threaten that it's going to get significantly worse quickly. It gets worse consistently, but very, very slowly.
If you would like to talk about the condition of your mother's toenails, you can simply send a photograph of the toenails to us and then call to talk with Dr. Segler so you can get all of the details about how much laser treatment of the toenail fungus might help the condition and appearance of the toenails.
If you have additional questions or would like to schedule a laser treatment, please feel free to call Dr. Segler directly at 415-308-0833.