Many people have an understandable reluctance to undergo surgery if they
can avoid it. This makes sense most of the time, but when it comes to
bunions and bunion pain, surgery really is the only method capable of
removing bunions and alleviating bunion pain permanently. Yet, there are
actually dozens of variations on bunion surgery. Indeed, depending on the
size and severity of the bunion –– as well as other health factors –– doctors
may recommend any one of 40+ possible surgical options. Obviously, this
might seem overwhelming to a patient. With that in mind, today we’ll take a
look at some of the most common types of bunion surgery, explain what
they are, and what you as a patient can expect from them. Check it out
Minimally Invasive vs Traditional Bunion Surgery
While the objectives of most bunion surgeries are very similar, the methods
surgeons use to carry them out fall into two distinct categories: minimally
invasive and traditional, open-foot surgery.
During traditional bunion surgery, the surgeon will make a large incision
along the to or side of the foot. Often, they will remove the bunion and use
metal screws or plates to hold the alignment of the foot in place. While this
can be an effective way to remove a bunion, it also creates lots of collateral
damage and difficulties. There is generally a longer recovery due to the
amount of scarring and disruption blood supply to the bones. Traditional
bunion surgeries are more susceptible to infection and in many instances
patients experience large scarring and stiffness along their foot as a result.
What’s more, traditional bunion surgery requires general anesthesia and
significant recovery time. It could take a patient months before they’re able
to walk freely and without pain after traditional, open-foot surgery.
Conversely, minimally invasive surgery accomplishes the same goals as
traditional surgery, but without the detrimental side effects. For one,
minimally invasive surgery involves only a very small (¼ inch) incision
along the side of the foot. This cuts down on scarring and recovery time.
What’s more, doctors only need to use local anesthesia to numb the foot.
This means that patients can, and regularly do, walk out of the operating
room and drive home after their procedure. Finally, recovery time is
drastically shorter with minimally invasive surgery.
Variations of Bunion Surgery
If your doctor recommends bunion surgery, they may use certain, specific
terms to describe the procedure. As we mentioned above, that’s because
there are many different variations on bunion surgery. Some of the most
common types of bunion procedure include:
● Exostectomy –– during an exostectomy the surgeon will remove the
bunion from the joint. This is often referred to as a “bunionectomy” or
bunion removal. A strict exostectomy does not involve the
realignment of the foot, and, as such, is typically performed in
conjunction with another procedure.
● Osteotomy –– an osteotomy is a surgical bone cut performed to
correct the joint near the big toe and restore the alignment of the foot.
● Arthrodesis & Arthroplasty –– individuals with arthritis and bunions
may require specialized procedures like arthrodesis –– meant to fuse
and completely remove the function of the joint, and arthroplasty ––
meant to remove damaged portions of joint. Both may require the
insertion of screws and/or plates to hold the new alignment of the foot
Keep in mind that over-the-counter treatments like bunion splints, pads,
and cushions will –– at best –– offer only minor and temporary pain relief.
And none will act to reduce or “cure” a bunion.
At Northwest Surgery Center, we specialize in minimally invasive
treatments. Our expert team has years of experience helping patients
overcome bunion pain and get back to living their life to the fullest again ––
pain-free. Contact us here to learn more about our methodologies or to
schedule a free consultation today.