Lapiplasty: A Better Way to Do Bunion Surgery

Feb 21, 2019

One of the most exciting things about practicing medicine is the sometimes rapid, sudden improvements in how we can care for our patients. New treatments are always being developed, and once in a while one comes along that can dramatically improve patients’ long-term outcomes for a common problem.

If you’re suffering from a bunion that requires surgical correction, we have good news for you. Now is one of those times.

Thanks to the advanced Lapiplasty procedure—a truly “three-dimensional” bunion correction procedure—we have been able to address the root causes of bunions and provide better, more consistent, and more dependable results than ever for our patients.

If you’ve been holding off on surgery because you’re worried about pain or not being able to get enough time off for recovery, it’s time to check out your options again. Many people who undergo Lapiplasty are able to be back on their feet within days of their operation.

A Quick Look at “Conventional” Bunion Surgery

In order to highlight what’s so great about Lapiplasty, we need to talk a bit about the “old” way of doing things.

Most bunions today are “corrected” via a surgical procedure called an osteotomy. During this procedure, the out-of-alignment bone is cut and repositioned along a single plane of movement—a “2D” solution.

But the truth is that most bunions are a lot more complex than that. It’s not just that one bone has shifted sideways; more often there’s an unstable joint in the middle of the foot that has caused the metatarsal to shift upward, downward, and rotate outward. In short, it’s a 3D problem, and a 2D solution will only ever be an incomplete fix—and won’t actually address the root causes of the bunion.

What this means in simple terms is that, while your bunion may look corrected from the outside, on the inside the bones are still fundamentally rotated and crooked. It’s kind of like changing a tire without fixing your wheel alignment or remodeling a home using substandard materials. It may look good at first glance, but you may well be setting yourself up for failure not too far down the road.

ankle treatment

What Makes Lapiplasty Different?

Unlike the more “two-dimensional” solution of an osteotomy, the Lapiplasty surgery fully restores your foot to an anatomically normal position—including rotationally. It fixes the joint instability at the root of the problem, providing much more dependable results.

First, through small incisions, we use an advanced tool designed to fully reposition the metatarsal bone in all three dimensions—sideways, vertically, and rotationally—before any cuts are made to the bone. This naturally eliminates the bunion, straightens out the toe, and puts all your bones back into the precise position they’re supposed to be in.

Next, a fine tool is used to make small, precise cuts in the metatarsal head, exactly where they need to be.

Finally, a compressor tool holds everything in perfect alignment while titanium plates are inserted to secure the unstable joint at the base of the metatarsal bone, which fixes the underlying cause of the bunion itself. Unlike the joint at the base of the big toe, this joint isn’t designed to move much, so securing it should result in no noticeable loss in function.

What Are the Biggest Advantages of Lapiplasty for a Typical Patient?

But enough about the technical details. This is really the information you came here for: what difference will choosing Lapiplasty make for your life?

Here are a few of the really big ones:

MUCH more dependable long-term results

Recent evidence suggests that the risk of recurrence is up to 12 times higher with a traditional osteotomy than with Lapiplasty.

Because traditional osteotomies don’t address the joint instability that causes bunions in the first place, they are likely to return later in life. In one long-term study, almost three-quarters of bunions returned within 14 years. At that point, most patients require a fusion (arthrodesis) surgery, which provides a more permanent solution at the cost of permanently reducing joint mobility.

By contrast, Lapiplasty restores natural bone alignment and secures the unstable joint, so you are much less likely to experience continued pain after surgery and significantly less likely to experience a re-emergence of the bunion.

Back on your feet sooner

Although individual results can vary, the majority of Lapiplasty patients are able to start walking again wearing a surgical boot within a few days of the procedure. By comparison, it may take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks before you can do any kind of meaningful weight bearing after a more conventional bunion surgery.

The overall timeline to complete healing is also usually faster with Lapiplasty. Most patients are back in regular shoes by about the 6-week mark, as opposed to 8 weeks or more for traditional surgery.

Check out this blog post for more detailed info about what you can expect from post-surgical recovery.

Minimal incisions

There are several additional benefits of Lapiplasty that are directly related to the fact that it uses smaller surgical incisions that an open surgery. These include:

  • Faster healing of surgical wounds
  • Less post-surgical pain
  • Lower risk of post-surgical infections
  • Less visible scarring

Contact Us About Bunion Treatment Options Today

Thanks to this new procedure, bunion surgery has never been safer, more convenient, and more effective. If you’re in lots of pain from a bunion, there’s never been a better time to come see us for help.

To schedule an appointment with one of the expert podiatric physicians at Comprehensive Foot Centers—at any of our 6 convenient locations—please give us a call today at (816) 455-1155.