Lapiplasty: A Better Way to Do Bunion Surgery
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.
The Problem with “Conventional” Bunion Surgery
In order to highlight what’s so great about Lapiplasty, we need to talk 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.
Osteotomies don’t have a terrible track record, exactly, but there are some obvious downsides to the approach.
On the plus side, they do restore a more normal shape to your foot, and many people do achieve good long-term results if they are disciplined about following up with preventative care—for example, by wearing their orthotics and good shoes.
However, the major issue with osteotomies is that they do not really do anything to address the fundamental causes. So, while the bunion itself may be “fixed” after an osteotomy, the underlying conditions that caused it in the first place may remain.
Furthermore, in most bunions (about 87 percent of cases), there are really three “dimensions” of misalignment. Not only is the metatarsal bone vertically and horizontally out of place, but it’s also rotationally misaligned. There’s a fundamental instability in the joint between the long first metatarsal bone and the bones of the midfoot which leads to this rotation. Osteotomies do not fix this.
As a result, traditional bunion surgery really presents only a partial fix. Your foot will look and work better than it did with your uncorrected bunion, but it won’t exactly be like you have your old foot back, either.
And because the fundamental instability remains, the recurrence rate is high. In fact, one long-term study published in 2016 tested two widely used osteotomy procedures and found that, for both, almost three quarters of patients had their bunion come back at some point before their 14-year follow-up.
In short, for many, if not most, the surgery provides temporary relief. Maybe it’ll last 2 years; maybe it’ll last 10. But if you haven’t fixed the underlying cause, the bunion is likely to return.
At that point, your next bunion surgery might have to be a fusion, which does provide a more permanent solution—at the cost of immobilizing the joint and reducing your foot function.
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—without cutting 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, specialized 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.
Main Advantages of Lapiplasty
Because of this unique approach, Lapiplasty offers several huge advantages over conventional surgeries:
- Minimal incision. Compared to open bunion surgeries, there is less scarring, faster tissue healing, and lower risk of post-surgical infections.
- Back on your feet fast. Most people are able to begin bearing weight on the injured foot (using a walking boot) within days of the procedure.
- Long-term results. Because natural bone alignment has been restored and the unstable joint has been secured, you are less likely to experience continued pain after surgery and significantly less likely to experience a recurrence of the bunion.
Thanks to this new procedure, bunion surgery has never been safer, more convenient, and more effective. So, 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 six convenient locations—please give us a call today at (816) 455-1155.
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