Bunion Surgery: What To Know Beforehand

Bunion Surgery Advice from the California Podiatrists at University Foot and Ankle Institute

Bunion surgery, also known as hallux valgus surgery is one of the most common presenting foot and ankle problems.  It is so common that almost every foot and ankle surgeon, both orthopedic and podiatric, perform bunion surgery on a routine basis.  As with every other field, there are those who are pushing the envelope and marketing a “special” technique that no one else can do.  If I was to give one piece of advice with such procedures, it would be to say BE CAREFUL.

So, what IS a bunion?

  • A bunion is a shift of the 1st metatarsal, or bone that leads to the big toe from the middle of the foot.
  • A bunion is not an overgrowth of bone.
  • There is both a soft tissue ligament component and a bone deformity component to a bunion deformity.

Here are some of the most initial factors to consider prior to bunion surgery and how to pick the right bunion surgeon.

  • Board Certification by the American Collage of Foot and Ankle Surgeons is a must for a surgeon
  • When you do a lot of surgery, it usually gives you the skills to be a better surgeon
  • NO ONE PROCEDURE IS PERFECT FOR ALL PEOPLE
  • If only one doctor does the surgery in the entire region, state or country, it is a marketing ploy and not the best procedure
  • Make sure you are comfortable with the doctor and his/her personality as you will need to be together for a few months

The most important thing to remember is doctors with top hospital or health organization affiliations are usually better at what they do.  Most hospitals and health organizations will not endorse a doctor unless they feel strongly that the doctor is top notch.

So now that you know about how to pick a doctor, how do you know which procedure is right for you.  This is more difficult but here are a few additional pieces of advice.

  • A bunionectomy with no cut in the bone which “shaves the bump” is doomed to failure in most cases
  • A bunionectomy with a cut in the bone can be done at the head or the base.  The bigger the bunion, the more common it is to have to make a cut at the base of the bone.
  • If the metatarsal or bunion bone is loose or hypermobile, and there is a risk of the bunion coming back, a Lapidus bunionectomy works best
  • Tightrope procedures which bridge the 1st metatarsal bunion bone to the 2nd metatarsal bone should be used in very select cases
  • Being in a cast with crutches is not the end of the world and is necessary in larger bunions.  If a doctor “never” uses a cast or crutches, they are sometimes not doing the right procedure.

So with all this information in hand, our final 5 points you should remember when considering bunion surgery:

  • Bunion Procedure selection is essential.  Don’t go for the guy who promises you a fast recovery and does the same procedure every time because there is a reason there are 40 bunion procedures and you need to make sure the procedure selected is the best one for you.
  • Pick a surgeon who does bunion surgery often and knows how to do all forms of bunion surgery from simple to complex. Remember what happens if something goes wrong?  Can your doctor fix the complication as well as he does the original surgery.
  • If you need crutches and a cast for the best result, thats what you need.  Remember you only get one chance to have an excellent outcome so do it right and take the time to make sure your result is excellent.
  • Foot doctors get paid about the same for all types of bunion surgery so they often take the easy way out.  Make sure your foot doctor is not picking a procedure that makes his life easy.  He is picking the best procedure for your foot type.
  • The use of screws and plates speeds up recovery and is the latest technique, so make sure your foot doctor is keeping up.

One final thought is that a good foot and ankle surgeon is no more than a good carpenter.  We cut, screw and we tie things together. Both orthopedic and podiatric foot and ankle surgeons can do this well, so pick according to the doctor who seems well trained, capable, has good credentials and you like.

The foot doctors, podiatrists and surgeons of University Foot and Ankle Institute are proud to be affiliated with multiple health organizations and are the preferred foot and ankle providers of UCLA Medical Group.  Our doctors are board certified or board qualified by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. We provide advanced foot podiatry at each one of our many locations.

We not only perform a large amount of bunion surgery, WE ALSO TEACH IT TO OTHER DOCTORS. We have published extensively on bunion surgery topics and are versed in all types of bunion surgery including revision of failed bunion surgery plus the tightrope procedure for bunions. For more information or an appointment please call 877-989-9110 or Request a Bunion Surgery Consultation

Dr. Bob Baravarian

Dr. Bob Baravarian

Dr. Bob Baravarian is a Board Certified Podiatric Foot and Ankle Specialist. He is currently a member of UCLA Medical Group, Chief of Podiatric Surgery at Santa Monica/UCLA medical center and Orthopedic Hospital and an assistant clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine. He also serves as co-director of University Foot and Ankle Institute. He is Editor Emeritus of the international medical journal, Foot and Ankle Specialist.

Dr. Baravarian been involved in athletics his entire life and played competitive tennis in high school and college. He has an interest in sports medicine, arthritis therapy and trauma/reconstructive surgery of the foot and ankle. He servers as a consultant to the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) tour, multiple running organizations and several shoe manufacturers. He is also fluent in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Farsi and Hebrew),

Podiatrist Dr. Bob Baravarian is available for consultation at the Santa Monica, Sherman Oaks and UCLA Westwood offices.
Dr. Bob Baravarian

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