3D surgery seeing high success rate for those who suffer with bunions

Posted at 7:04 PM, Jul 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 19:44:22-04

It's a common misconception that you can just "shave off" a bunion. Turns out, it's a deformity that needs to be realigned. Doctors are now able to lower the rate of recurrence with a surgery that's three dimensional.

Jennifer Anderson is an avid runner, biker and hiker who doesn't like to be slowed down.

“By the fall of last year, it got to the point where it was miserable to put running shoes on, hiking boots on, bike shoes,” said Anderson. “At that point, I was like, ‘I need to get this fixed.’”

She noticed a bunion developing in her early 30s, but she didn't realize until much later that it was halting her stride.

“When it started causing an issue with the things I like to do athletic-wise, running, I’ve always been a runner, I like to ride my bike inside and outside, hiking, so when it got to a point when I wasn’t enjoying that stuff anymore, I knew it was time to get it fixed,” said Anderson.

She started doing some research and got overwhelmed with all the types and kinds of surgeries. There are 200 different types of bunion surgeries that exist, which make it difficult to pick the right kind that works best for each situation.

“I was actually discouraged because before looking at the Lapiplasty, that point was huge to me,” she said. “I was like, ‘why would I go through having a surgery if it’s going to probably come back?’”

Dr. Bharat Desai walked her through what Lapiplasty does and why it's successful.

"So, literally we’re fusing a joint that’s unstable back to a joint that’s stable. Once a fusion occurs, it won’t change.”

The Denver based Orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon says 50 to 60% of bunions are genetic. They occur over time and they tend to be more common in women.

“With current standards on fashion and such people want narrower feet, this is not much different than in Japan and the geishas when they bound feet to make them narrow,” said Desai.

He says sometimes it causes pain in other areas.

“When you have a bunion, it’s a physical change in the alignment your body has to manage that alignment change so it compensates, it can affect knee, ankle, foot and it can affect the ball of your feet as well,” he said.

Desai says Lapiplasty is successful because it lessens the chance of a bunion coming back. It permanently addresses the deformity with a 3D fix for a 3D problem.

A word of caution from the doctor though:

“A bump could just be a spur. Not all bumps are bunions and not all bunions are bumps and so the best thing I would advise is if you’re having pain on the big toe, see a foot and ankle specialist, because they can help you differentiate what it is. It may not be a bunion.”

As for Anderson, her recovery was easier than she thought it would be. She was able to walk shortly after surgery. By six weeks, she was in athletic shoes and by the four-month mark, she was back on her feet, back on the road, and back on the trails.