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Advanced Bunion Surgery Restores Function and Beauty!

  October 08, 2016
By John M. Sigle DPM, FACFAS, Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois

According to WebMD, there are probably over one hundred surgeries for bunions. Some of the more common types include removing the portion of bone on the side of the big toe (metatarsal head), cutting and realigning soft tissue surrounding the big toe joint, making cuts into the bone to realign the joint, removing or reshaping the bone in the big toe joint, fusing the big toe joint, fusing the metatarsal joint and mid foot, and inserting an implant in place of the metatarsal joint.

The goals of bunion surgery are pretty straightforward: to relieve pain, to remove the bunion and keep it from returning, and to correct the alignment and mechanics of the foot. If done correctly, the appearance of the foot will most likely improve. Unfortunately, traditional practices often result in substantial pain, a long recovery time, and visible scarring. Many people are reluctant to have surgery and modify their normal routines and lifestyles to avoid surgery.

The more traditional surgical methods usually consist of an incision on the top of the big toe joint that extends toward the mid foot. Some techniques include an additional incision between the first and second toe on top of the foot extending to the mid foot. Wires, screws, pins, and plates are typically used to stabilize the bones during healing. In the majority of cases, casting or boot immobilization is required along with non-load bearing crutches for six to eight weeks. Consequently, patients are inactive and not able to return to work during that time at full capacity.

Here is the good news! Other, more advanced surgical techniques that are minimally invasive are being used more often than traditional techniques. They are more effective at correcting the bunion condition, minimizing pain, enhancing healing and recovery, and minimizing scarring. Now, advanced foot and ankle surgeons are combining surgical techniques to achieve both functional and aesthetic results with a high degree of success.

A cosmetic approach with a smaller medial incision is made on the side of the foot that is hidden from the eye. It looks as though there’s never been any surgical work done while wearing sandals or being barefoot. Sutures are located under the skin to eliminate scarring and detection. These sutures are dissolvable.

Precise surgical bone cuts are engineered to withstand weight bearing, to realign toes, and to maintain proper foot structure and balance. Using the Swiss Compression Technique, tiny screws are used to fixate surgical bone cuts and to stabilize the realignment. Patients are not required to be casted or on crutches. The Swiss Compression Technique allows patients to become weight bearing immediately after surgery in a surgical shoe. Patients can drive the day after surgery.

Surgeons often use a variety of surgical techniques referred to as metatarsal osteotomies to correct hallux abduction valgus deformities (HAV). HAV deformities are located at the base of the big toe, or metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. This condition is present when the big toe (hallux) is deviated or points toward the lesser toes. In very extreme cases, the big toe can cross under or over the second toe.

Head, mid shaft, or base metatarsal osteotomies are some of the more notable techniques used to correct HAV deformities in the MTP joint. In some severe cases, fusing the midfoot joint is required. Your surgeon will determine the best type of surgery to address the severity and location of the pathology.

Most bunion surgery is done under light sedation and local anesthesia, so there is no tube and no hangover from the anesthesia. Surgery is done as an outpatient basis and patients go home the same day.

Minimally invasive procedures also minimize edema and pain. There is less internal scarring and damage to the tissue allowing for faster recovery time. Patients are not required to be casted or on crutches. They can begin walking immediately and, in most cases, wear comfortable athletic shoes within two weeks. Most women are back in their high heels in twelve weeks.

Patients are able to return to work faster and to their normal activities within a much shorter time than traditional bunion surgeries. Now patients can have their surgery done on a Thursday or Friday and return to work within four to five days. Although they are not able to make lengthy and demanding walks, they are able to get in and out of a car and walk to their office. The majority of patients undergoing minimally invasive bunion surgery are highly satisfied. They are extremely happy with the way their feet look and feel.

If you are considering bunion surgery, select the right foot and ankle surgeon who is knowledgeable and experienced to customize a surgical plan that will result in the best outcome for you. Choose a surgeon with experience and one you can trust.

If you are looking for board-certified foot and ankle surgeon or want additional information regarding Swiss Compression Bunion Techniques and metatarsal osteotomies, contact the Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois at 217-787-2700 for a consultation. The Foot & Ankle Center of Illinois is located at 2921 Montvale Drive, Springfield, and has outreach clinics in Decatur, Carlinville, Shelbyville, and Monticello, IL. Visit to view literature on the treatment of bunions.
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October 08, 2016

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