YOUR HEALTH: Staying on your feet after bunion surgery

BOYNTON BEACH, Florida – Almost two thirds of people over the age of 65 have bunions and fixing the problem can keep you off your feet for weeks.

Carrie Lepofsky is a self-described shoe-a-holic.   But severe bunions slowed her down.

"The leather of the shoe doesn't really cover the bunion, so you do the best to kind of smush it in there and then it hurts."

Like most patients she feared surgery because that meant being off her feet for two months.

"Traditional bunion surgery had a poor success rate," explained foot and ankle surgeon Dr. Adam Katz.

Dr. Katz says the deformity of the joint connecting the big toe to the foot can be genetic but made worse by certain shoes.   He says previous surgeries shaved off the bump but didn't stabilize the joint, allowing the metatarsal bone to drift out of alignment.

"There's a high recurrence rate, a lot of patients were unhappy."

Now, Dr. Katz is using a new procedure called lapiplasty that addresses all three dimensions of the joint.

"That's what the lapiplasty does, we correct all three planes, we de-rotate it, we move it back over."

Then titanium plate technology by Treace is used to permanently secure the joint, which allows rapid weight bearing.

LAPIPLASTY:   Lapiplasty is a paradigm shift in thinking about bunion deformity and its surgical correction.   It allows the surgeon, for the first time, to automate a three-plane (transverse, frontal and sagittal) bunion correction and fuse the tarsal-metatarsal (TMT) joint in the corrected alignment. According to founder John T. Treace, correcting the frontal plane deformity is likely the "missing link" in traditional bunion surgery.  "Recent studies indicate that in about 85% of bunion patients the metatarsal bone is rotated valgus (or pronated) in the frontal plane in addition to being translated in the transverse plane.   The frontal plane has historically been overlooked and unaddressed in the surgical management of the bunion," said Treace.

Carrie had her right foot done a few months ago.    She'll have her left foot done early next year.

"This was the bunion here," she said.   "In shock. It's a miracle, that's all I can say, it's a miracle."

Two weeks after the procedure Carrie was walking in a boot.

Six weeks later she was showing off her new shoes.

"I walk around with my sandals and I'm not self-conscious."

Happy she finally took the step to correct her painful problem.

The procedure is covered by most insurance companies because bunions are considered a medical condition.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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