The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Bunion Surgery: Factors to Consider Before Making a Decision Regarding This Procedure

Posted by on Friday, April 18th, 2014

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Determining whether or not to have bunion surgery done can be a difficult decision. At The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in NYC, it is our job to help patients perform a cost/benefit analysis and determine whether they could truly benefit from undergoing a more invasive procedure. No one likes the look of a bunion deformity on their big toes, but they are very common and not always in need of surgical removal.

bunions
Did you know 4.4 million people see a doctor for bunions each year?
Image Source: Midtown Podiatry via HealthResearchFunding.org

3 Darn Good Reasons to Consider Bunion Surgery

1. Your bunion’s got you down. Have you passed on a pool party because you’re embarrassed of your bunion? Do you feel inferior and emotionally uncomfortable at black tie events, just knowing that a bunion is crammed inside your dress shoes? Are you afraid of intimacy with a romantic partner due to your bunion? A 2011 study published in the journal of Arthritis Care & Research reported that people with bunions generally score lower on measures of mental health, vitality, and social functioning. There’s no reason to be depressed when surgery can fix your woes.

2. You’re in pain on a daily basis. Pain is an individual experience, so it’s hard for us to say whether your pain is severe enough to warrant surgery. We have seen some pretty horrific-looking bunions that caused the patient no pain whatsoever. Conversely, we have seen mild bunions that seem to wreak a lot of havoc. So if you have a bunion that does not feel better when you use over-the-counter pain relievers, switch to wider shoes, and try other self-help measures, then surgery is a viable option.

3. You’ve tried it all. Some patients respond to conservative treatment right away and can’t believe how easy bunion treatment was. Other patients may run through OTC medication, toe separators, splints, braces, custom orthoses, and shoe changes, without relief. Most of our surgery patients have had a troublesome bunion for six months or more.

bunion surgery
Are bunions hindering your social life?
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3 Reasons to Take Pause before Bunion Surgery

1.  Your bunion is simply an issue of looking bad. Cosmetic foot surgery is not something we generally recommend to people. Unless the bunion is causing pain, there is little reason to undergo a more invasive procedure. While unlikely, there is no guarantee that bunions will not reappear if you keep wearing the same shoes or if you have a hereditary predisposition to developing bunions.

2. You have a weakened immune system. There is concern with patients who have diabetes, cancer, AIDS, or another disease that causes weakened immune response. The body may not be able to heal quickly and effectively following surgery. Not only does this make scarring more likely, but it also makes secondary infection a greater possibility. Diabetics, in particular, must take special care to avoid any type of injury to the foot for fear of ulceration and amputation.

3. You make poor lifestyle choices. As Podiatry Today puts it, “a 65-year-old, one pack a day smoker who weighs 300 pounds is not an ideal candidate” for bunion surgery. Your recovery will very much depend upon your ability to follow proper protocol afterward. You will need to stay off your feet for several months, reduce your workload, and take care of yourself to heal faster. Having realistic expectations for recovery is important in facilitating a favorable outcome.

Bunion Treatment & Surgery in New York

The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine in Manhattan and Westchester offers full bunion treatment and surgery. Our foot surgeons have performed over 4,000 bunion corrections — from simple adjustments to osteotomy sparing mini-tightrope procedures. The surgery is performed in an outpatient setting at Beth Israel’s Phillips Ambulatory Care Center, Mount Sinai Hospital, or right here in our NYC office. Center Director, Dr. Josef Geldwert, has published articles and lectured on various types of bunion repairs and success rates. Your feet are in good hands with us! Contact a NY podiatrist to discuss your options.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.