This story is brought to you by Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, the largest medical facility in the region, serving Idaho, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park and Montana. With a Level II trauma center, Level I ICU, and the state’s only burn center, EIRMC provides valued and vital resources to the communities it serves.
Got bunions? If so, science points blame toward the past.
“We inherit our foot type from our ancestors, and certain foot types – like flat feet and those with extremely flexible joints – are more prone to develop bunions,” said Dr. Tony Quinton, podiatrist with Southeast Idaho Surgical Group.
Good news: A futuristic, less invasive surgery offers a permanent solution and straightens the root of the problem.
“Bunions are essentially a deformity of the big toe joint. Though the big bump that forms near the big toe is most notable, there’s a complex misalignment at the joint that pulls several ligaments into an abnormal position,” explained Dr. Quinton. “That unbalanced, unstable joint is the deeper issue.”
Such pulling and misalignment cause joint pain and arthritis, and the unsightly formed bunion can rub wrong and limit activities. Unfortunately, up to one in three Americans suffer from bunions. In fact, it’s one of the most common foot problems in adults; and bunions commonly bump teens out of physical activity, too.
For the past 50 years, bunion surgery has looked the same: A 5- to 6-inch long incision along the side of the foot, the placement of hardware, and a lengthy recovery.
“Traditional bunion surgeries realigned the joint but often left nuances of correction unanswered. In turn, we had a recurrence rate that has frustrated patients and surgeons for a long time,” Dr. Quinton said.
“Thankfully, the new, less invasive procedure, called lapiplasty or 3D bunion correction, is designed to completely reduce the deformity in such a way that the rate of recurrence is almost negligible.”
In addition to saying “bye-bye” to bunions for good, less invasive lapiplasty surgery offers small key-hole incisions, a reduced risk of infection, less swelling and pain, and a faster recovery time.
During the less invasive 3D bunion correction, specially-trained surgeons use live X-ray imaging and high-tech guides to correctly align all types and angles of deformities within the tiny foot bones. This includes correcting subtle rotations of the tiny bones that traditional surgeries often miss. Once correctly aligned, the surgeon verifies the positioning using the technology’s advanced intelligence before permanently fusing the bones together with plates and screws.
“This technology is impressive – and even more so are the results,” Dr. Quinton said.
Dr. Quinton said such successful surgeries have the potential to realign lives as well as feet.
For example, Dr. Quinton recently performed the 3D bunion correction at EIRMC on a woman who had the worst bunion deformities he had seen in 20-plus years of podiatry experience. The woman hadn’t worn a closed toe shoe in decades and the pain made it difficult to stand, walk and hold a job in her industry. Using the less invasive surgical approach, Dr. Quinto removed the woman’s monstrous bunions, and she has since returned to work.
“That was a huge deal for her and very rewarding for me to be a part of,” Dr. Quinton said. “I love to see people returning to their occupations, sports, and lifestyle– and with this less invasive technique, they can live their best lives a month earlier than with traditional surgery. When it comes to work and exercise, a month is significant.”
Traditional surgery requires 6 weeks without weight bearing, followed by 4 weeks in a boot. With the less invasive lapiplasty, patients only need to avoid weight bearing for 2 to 3 weeks. From there, patients who undergo the less invasive surgery use a boot for just 3 weeks before lacing up a regular shoe to participate in light exercises.
“I wholeheartedly recommend the less invasive bunion removal surgery at EIRMC because I can confidently tell patients their chance of recurrence is close to zero and a return to activity can happen much sooner,” Dr. Quinton said. “Plus, when the bandage comes off, patients are always happy because their foot looks dramatically different. The “before and afters” are stunning in a good bunion correction!”