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Scott Biggerstaff, MD

What is Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery?

Instead of a large opening, minimally invasive bunion surgery refers to any surgical procedure performed through small incisions. You will probably have a faster recovery time and less pain than conventional open surgery, but with the same advantages as traditional surgery because your surgeon will make smaller incisions. 

Your surgeon will make several small incisions in your skin during minimally invasive bunion surgery, typically a couple of millimeters long. An endoscope (a long, thin tube fixed with a camera and light) will then be inserted into one of the incisions by your surgeon. Images from the endoscope are sent to the operating room's monitors so that your surgeon can see clear, magnified images of the area that needs minimally invasive bunion surgery.

Minimally invasive surgery's advantages include: 

  • Minor incisions   
  • Less discomfort 
  • Minimal to no scars at all 
  • Less loss of blood 
  • Lower complication rate 
  • Shorter stay in a hospital

What Is a Bunion? 

A bunion is a sore, bony lump developing at the junction between the big toe and feet. The largest toes in many individuals lean slightly inwards towards the other toes. If your big toe's angle starts getting bigger over time, the point where your metatarsal meets your toe gets inflamed and widened. It usually takes years to form bunions. Whilst they may not be too hard to start, they can end up being so painful that it is difficult even to walk.

Look at the warning signs below to identify a bunion:

  • A bony bump next to your big toe on your foot 
  • Your large toe points towards the other toes at a severe angle 
  • Hardening of the skin or skins over the bump 
  • Roasting or irritation 
  • Warm, shiny bump skin 
  • Inflammation and swelling 
  • Distress as you walk or move the toes 

What Causes a Bunion?

Some people are more prone to bunions than others, as your foot and bone structure contribute significantly to this problem. Mostly bunions run in the family.

They are more often in the female population than men because female shoe styles are tighter, especially high heels, which cause feet bones to move unnaturally. Bunions also become more common in the elderly, as your feet spread and your joints become weaker and more damage-prone.

Types of Bunion Treatment Methods

The operation aims to alleviate pain and to correct the deformities. The operation is not cosmetic and is not intended to improve the look of the foot. Additional related treatments to help detect foot conditions include bone and foot x-rays. The type and severity of the bunion, age, overall health, activity level, bones, and connective tissue determine the minimally invasive bunion surgery performed. For more details, please see these procedures:

Mild Bunion

The surgeon can remove the bone's enlarged part for this minimally invasive bunion surgery and adjust the surrounding muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Moderate Bunion

The surgeon may cut the bone and move it to its correct position in the event of a moderate bunion. The severity and location of the deformity determines whether the bone is cut or not. Furthermore, it is necessary to reposition the surrounding tendons and ligaments.

Severe Bunion

In severe surgery, minimally invasive bunions, the larger part of the bone may be removed, the bone cut and rearranged, and the tendons and ligaments position corrected.

Big Toe Joint or Arthritic Bunion

If, as is often seen in arthritis, the joint is damaged beyond repair, it may have to be fused. In the reconstruction of the big toe joint, joint replacement implants may occasionally be used.

What Are the Risks of Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery?

Complications can happen, as with any surgical procedure. Certain potential complications may include:

  • Rigidity
  • Numbness
  • Inflammation
  • Healing delayed
  • Infections

Other complications may include bunion recurrence, damage to the nerves, and ongoing pain. The minimally invasive bunion surgery may also lead to the problem being overcorrected, in which the big toe extends away from the other toes.

Depending upon your particular medical condition, there may be other risks. Before the procedure, be sure to discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider.

Is it Possible to Avoid Bunions? 

Bunions that are not painful usually do not require minimally invasive bunion surgery. This is why orthopedic surgeons do not prescribe 'preventive' surgery for non-hurtful bunions; it can never be a problem with good prevention. 

In most cases, bunion pain can be handled successfully by switching to shoes that fit correctly and do not rub the toes together. Your orthopedic surgeon should provide you with more details on the shoes and shoe styles that suit you well. 

The Phase of Recovery After the Correction Procedure 

The recovery from minimally invasive bunion surgery depends on the patient. The surgery, the bunion size, and the patient's overall sensitivity will all play a role in the healing process. However, most patients would find it tricky to put weight on the foot for several days and probably weeks after surgery. 

Patients must wear a surgical shoe until the swelling reduces, and they feel at ease in a tennis shoe. It is necessary to lift your foot as much as possible for the first week following minimally invasive bunion surgery. Patients are likely to feel painful throbbing if the foot is not lifted properly.

To minimize swelling, ice should be applied every few hours. While it may be painful to place weight on the foot, it's advisable to do so in the first few days after the surgery. There is no need to struggle with extreme pain, but putting weight on it and walking is very necessary for proper healing. 

The dressing is replaced every week, and stitches are removed about two weeks after the procedure. The regular foot and toe exercises prescribed to you by your doctor are definitely a big part of the healing process. Failing to perform these exercises will prevent you from regaining full mobility of the foot and toe. 

Patients are normally very pleased with the outcome of their bunionectomy when the foot is properly recovered. The foot's look is significantly enhanced, allowing a wider variety of shoes to be worn by individuals. Most significantly, patients are free from bunion pain and return to their daily lives.


September 14, 2022

Hi. Do you do Lapiplasty bunion surgeries? Thank you
- Sharon Barber
Reply From: OrthoCarolina

September 19, 2022

Hi Sharon! We recommend mentioning this specific procedure to your surgeon to find out if you are a candidate.