Bunions can cause a great amount of pain and discomfort as well as being aesthetically unpleasing. For some, it can make choosing footwear a chore and many activities unbearable.
There are a wealth of products on the market that can help to relieve the pain from bunions temporarily and may help to stop them growing in size but the only solution to actually treating the bunion is to have it surgically removed.
Typically, bunion surgery was known to have a long period of downtime and often resulted in a period of post-op pain which along with the long wait times, was enough to deter many patients from going ahead with this option.
*Reviewed by Dr Tracy Mountford Medical Director, MBBS MBCAM
A bunion, medically known as Hallax Valgus is a deformity of the foot often around the big toe. In most cases, a bony lump will appear on the outside edge of the foot which then form over time as your big toe pushes against your next toe. This forces the joint of your big toe to grow and stick out the side of your foot.
In more severe cases, the big toe can point towards the other toes on your foot instead of sitting upright. Some people can experience pain, redness and swelling however this does vary between individuals.
The main cause of bunions is often to congenital factors which mean you may be genetically prone to bunions. Although in some case bunions are acquired; this means the bunion has developed from wearing ill-fitting and uncomfortable footwear.
Ill-fitting shoes can cause bunions to develop at a more rapid rate as they are likely to cause excessive pressure and compression on the toes which causes the deformity. The compression increases when wearing shoes with high heels as your body weight will sit at the front of the foot.
Your shoes should conform to the shape of your feet without squeezing or pressing any part of your foot.
Most people will know if they have a bunion by the appearance and often some pain.
It is possible for men to develop bunions. The majority of men’s bunions are hereditary but ill-fitting footwear, collapsed arches and flat feet can also be part of the problem too.
The wearing of high heels and ill-fitting shoes are often blamed for the occurrence of bunions but actually it is more down to genetics and the way that you walk. If you have family members who suffer from bunions then the wearing of tight shoes and stilettos on a regular basis are not going to help but they will not be the direct cause.
There are a range of non-surgical treatments for bunions out there including bunion pads which can help making shoes more comfortable. Bunion corrective braces can also be worn to assist in correcting the deformity over time but for a more instant and long-lasting results, bunionectomy surgery is often advised.
Bunion removal surgery takes less than 30 minutes to complete.
Developed by Dr Andreas Bianchi and his team, the revolutionary technique removes the concept that every fracture needs to be rested in order to heal. Once the bones have been realigned, any fractures are left free so the foot is then encouraged to heal in sync with the patients load-bearing needs and not to a ‘pre-established’ standard that may not be right for the patient.
Dr Andreas Bianchi creates a series of small and precise fractures that are known as geometric fractures which do not force the bone into place using any fixative devices and allows the foot to heal naturally. The bones and joints in the foot are therefore not being forced to repair, this means they heal in a more natural positions which results in better comfort and functionality post-op.
The procedure uses small surgical dental burrs to correct the deformity and modify the bones of the foot. These are inserted through very small 2-3mm incisions and are guided using a special radiological device allowing the surgeon to see the bones and burs without needing to make larger incisions. The important innovation of the technique is that fixative devices such as screws and wires are not used. This allows the fractures to heal according to requirements of the patients foot.
Post procedure, the foot will be bandaged and taped using a personalised bandaging which allows the physiological healing process to spontaneously restructure the foot and avoid any additional stress caused by arbitrary immobilisation. You will be required to wear this for up to 20 days before returning to clinic to have it reduced.
The use of metal screws makes the procedure very invasive and can also create problems such as the joints in the foot not being able to find a natural posture, which can results in a huge amount of discomfort post-surgery. This may results in a second operation being required to remove them. In addition, the healing from this kind of surgery can take a prolonged period of time and in some instances crutches are needed before the foot is able to bear weight.
Dr Bianchi has developed a more natural and biological method without using fixative devices. Through his research over 20 years, Dr Bianchi has proven that self-stabilizing geometric fractures can be made on short-bones (without the need for immobilisation) with long term results. This not only means that healing and recovery is much quicker and easier, but that greater joint mobility is achieved after surgery, compared to standard techniques.
Each procedure is customised to the patients. The bones is fractured, re-aligned and bandaged in such a way that creates the perfect results for the patients anatomy and better comfort and joint articulation. The absence of screws means that the joint is not fixed in one place, it can move freely.
The patient can also go back to walking immediately post-surgery without the need for crutches.
Once your bunion correction is complete you will be encouraged to place your foot on the floor and start walking gradually. Your surgeon will use a personalised bandaging technique to bandage the foot and you will be given a specialised orthopaedic shoe to wear.
Patients will then be given specific aftercare instructions by the surgeon for you to follow post-procedure and a post-op appointment for 15-20 days time will be confirmed.
We recommend that you have your bunion correction procedures carried out on one foot at a time to aid for a better recovery.
Immediately after bunion correction surgery you will be required to wear a specialised orthopaedic shoe for the first couple of days. Your surgeon will let you know post-procedure when you can stop wearing this and go back to wearing your usual shoes.
Full aftercare will be provided by your surgeon after your procedure although we do advise that you initially stick to comfortable and well-fitted shoes to allow your foot to properly heal.
Although you will be able to walk after bunion correction surgery we do advise that you take care when returning to driving. We recommend that patients wait until they are able to wear their usual shoes before driving.
Based on the geometric correction used to correct the bunion it is far less likely to reappear compared to the traditional surgery method. However, it is not impossible. Your surgeon will go over all the risks and complications associated with bunionectomy surgery at your consultation.