Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery

What Is A Bunion?

A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. Bunions occur when the alignment of one’s foot changes, causing the big toe to curve inward due to pressure. Bunion pain most commonly occurs when the bunion rubs against a shoe or against other toes, as well as in the ball of the foot due to misalignment. Bunions can cause pain and swelling around the big toe and when left untreated, may affect the alignment of other toes. Toenails may begin to grow into the sides of the nail bed. Toes may develop corns or become bent (hammertoes). Leaving a bunion untreated prolongs the pain and can lead to other painful conditions and complications, so it is important to see a doctor right away if you are experiencing foot pain or believe you might have a bunion.

What Causes Bunions?

Bunions are extremely common – it is estimated that 1 in 3 adults will experience bunion pain at some point in their lives. Bunions are most commonly caused by:

Improper or Ill-Fitting Footwear

Wearing shoes that are too small can lead to a bunion, as well as high heels or narrow shoes that might cramp your toes. Many doctors recommend opting for shoes that have a little extra room in order to avoid cramping toes or complications such as bunions that can form as a result of tight footwear. You should also avoid wearing high heels or overly tight and restrictive shoes for an extended period of time in order to avoid bunions and other possible complications. 

Joint Conditions

Medical conditions such as Rheumatoid Arthritis that cause bone and joint pain can lead to further complications which include bunions. This often occurs because Rheumatoid Arthritis can cause one’s body to attack the lining of the big toe joint, causing ligamentous and joint instability. The symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis and bunions are very similar, so it can be difficult to diagnose a bunion in these patients without a proper doctor’s visit. If you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis or similar bone and joint conditions, you are at a higher risk for bunions in comparison to those without pre-existing conditions. 


While many studies show that bunions themselves are not hereditary, one of the most common causes of bunions is the natural shape of one’s foot, which is caused by genetics. If your natural foot shape places pressure on your big toe, it is likely that you will experience a bunion. There is also the possibility that genes responsible for other foot conditions can be a hereditary cause for bunions. Hypermobility, for example, is a condition that can eventually lead to bunion formation and is genetic. Another risk for bunions that could be genetic is a patient with a tight Achilles tendon. While bunions themselves are not believed to be hereditary, there are many genetic causes that can contribute to the likelihood of one experiencing bunions at a higher rate than others.

Any activity or condition that puts constant pressure or stress on your big toe joint can put you at high risk for bunions. 

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“I WALKED out of surgery with NO cast, no rope scares, NO hardware and NO cane, just a small ankle boot. This was amazing! Had the other foot done 3 weeks later! The staff is very friendly and helpful and I missed them after my final appointment! I wouldn’t change anything.”

Bunion Removal Surgery Options

Conventional bunion surgery is described by many patients and physicians as one of the most painful procedures that one can undergo.

In addition to the pain, conventional bunion removal procedures require a postoperative recovery time of about 6-8 weeks, in which patients are severely limited in the type of physical activities they can do. Patients typically cannot walk or drive on their own and are often required to wear a cast or boot for several weeks after surgery. Additionally, patients must care for stitches that must be left in place for weeks and are unable to get wet. Patients who undergo standard procedures for bunion removal are at a higher risk for complications post-op, which can include infection and bone deformities as the bones in the foot begin to heal. Patients must also wear a special post-operative shoe for several weeks following a conventional procedure, further limiting their ability to resume their usual activities. Bunions can be a debilitatingly painful condition; medically removing a bunion through a conventional surgical procedure, however, can cause just as much pain and can be just as much of a hindrance on one’s daily life. 

Patients that come to Northwest Surgery Center for the treatment of bunions tend to fall into one of the following categories:

  • They’ve had problems with bunions for a long time, and they want them fixed right away.
  • They likely have new bunions developing, and want to fix them in the most timely manner possible
  • They have had unsuccessful traditional bunion removal surgery

Patients who fall into one of the above categories are often great candidates for our minimally invasive bunion surgery. 

How Is Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery Different Than Traditional Surgery?

Traditional Bunion Surgery is performed using general anesthesia, meaning patients are sedated with medication during a surgical procedure. During the surgery, a long incision is made on top or on the side of your toe. The bone is then cut, and the toe is realigned. After the realignment, the surgeon will insert screws, plates, and/or wires to keep the new alignment in place. They sew layers of skin back and wrap the foot in a bandage. Patients usually need to stay off their feet for two weeks, sometimes for several months and will need to care for stitches that cannot get wet. Patients will also need to do physical therapy for several weeks to regain strength in their muscles and must wear a special post-operative shoe during the entire recovery process. Because of the anesthesia used and the post-operative care that is needed, it is likely that patients will need to take time off from school or work to undergo a conventional bunion removal surgery. It is not possible for patients to drive themselves home after surgery, or to walk for several weeks after. 

Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery

At Northwest Surgery Center, we are proud to offer minimally invasive surgery as an alternative to conventional surgical procedures for patients looking to remove a bunion. The anesthesia we use during these procedures is similar to the anesthesia you get at your dentist – it leaves you feeling relaxed, and prevents you from feeling any pain. We do not put patients to sleep, as we only make three minor incisions to fix bunions. 

We do not open or expose your foot. Also, we do not use permanent hardware. The doctor wraps up your foot in a soft cast and uses gauze to cover your foot. A comfortable, lightweight surgical shoe enables you to walk right out of the operating room. You can move around and you will not need crutches.  Most patients experience little to no post-operative pain. 

When is a Good Time to Have Minimally Invasive Bunion Removal Surgery?

The longer you wait to correct a bunion, the more problems will likely arise. It is best to correct a bunion as soon as it becomes an issue, to prevent it from hindering your ability to complete everyday activities such as walking, driving, and wearing your favorite shoes.  It is also best to fix it when the bunion is in the mild to the moderate stage rather than waiting until it gets severe.  As the severity increases, you risk causing arthritis, and hammertoes, and requiring additional and more aggressive procedures.

Recovery Time

The most remarkable difference between traditional bunion removal surgeries and minimally invasive bunion surgery is the recovery time. After minimally invasive bunion surgery, you can walk right out of the operating room with little to no pain. There are no general anesthesia side effects; there is no lying in bed for up to three months. You can walk into the surgery center with a bunion, and walk right out of it bunion-free and almost pain-free, just two hours later.

Contact us today for an appointment and free consultation. If you need your bunion problem fixed as soon as possible, we can make it happen. Sometimes, it is possible to have the procedure right after the free consultation.

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