What is a bunion?

A bunion (hallux valgus) is an enlargement of the bone or tissue around a joint at the base of the big toe or at the base of the little toe. This one is called a “bunionette” or “tailor’s bunion.” Bunions often form when the joint is stressed over a prolonged period. Most bunions form in women, primarily because women may be more likely to wear tight, pointed, and confining shoes. Bunions may be inherited as a family trait and may also result from arthritis.

A common misconception is that a bunion is an overgrowth of bone that can be “shaved off,” when, in reality, it is a complex deformity caused by an unstable joint.

What treatment options are available?

Treatment of bunions may vary depending on the pain and deformity and can include:

  • Wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes (particularly shoes that conform to the shape of the foot and do not cause pressure areas)
  • Applying pads to the affected area
  • Medicine, such as ibuprofen
  • Surgery (for pain, not for cosmetic purposes)

Why might I need bunion surgery?

You may need bunion surgery if you have severe foot pain that happens even when walking or wearing flat, comfortable shoes. Surgery may also be needed when chronic big toe inflammation and swelling isn’t relieved with rest or medicines. Other reasons for surgery include toe deformity, a drifting in of the big toe toward the small toe, and an inability to bend and straighten the big toe.

There may be other reasons for your healthcare provider to recommend bunion surgery.

What is bunion surgery?

Robert Santrock, MD, offers three-dimensional bunion correction called Lapiplasty™, the newest option in bunion surgery. This procedure precisely corrects the entire bone, addresses the root cause of the bunion, and is a 3D solution for a 3D problem. The recovery time for this procedure is strikingly better than previous surgeries for bunions. Patients are allowed to walk immediately after this procedure.

Traditional bunion surgery – called Lapidus surgery – is a cut and shift approach that addresses the bunion’s symptoms not its root cause. The bunion is significantly more likely to return to some degree with traditional surgery.

Lapiplasty™, however uses specially designed instrumentation to rotate the bone back into its normal anatomical position, thereby straightening the toe and removing the bump and the pain it caused.

In addition, where traditional surgery required the patient to be off of his or her foot for six weeks post-procedure, patients who undergo Lapiplasty™ can bear weight on the treated foot within days of the surgery.

What are the risks of bunion surgery?

As with any surgical procedure, complications can happen. Some possible complications may include:

  • Stiffness
  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Delayed healing
  • Infection

Other complications may include recurrence of the bunion, nerve damage, and continued pain. The surgery may also result in over-correction of the problem, in which the big toe extends away from the other toes.

There may be other risks depending on your specific medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider before the procedure.