Procedure offers permanent fix for pesky bunions with quicker recovery time

Health

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Rosemary Stipe’s passion has taken her feet to many corners of Europe. As a tour manager, she’s walked streets many of us have only dreamed about. 

“I’ve taken groups and personal trips over 132 times to Ireland now,” she said. 

But she’s done it all in pain and closed-toed shoes. 

“I never wore sandals because my foot looked so horrible, and I was really embarrassed about it,” Stipe explained. 

Her condition isn’t rare. 

“Bunions are very common, so I see them about 10 times a week. So of that, approximately 25% of them have a severe bunion,” said Dr. Thomas Bembynista, Stipe’s podiatrist. 

Bunions don’t just look unpleasant. In many people, they cause intense pain. 

“It really really started hurting after awhile,” Stipe said. 

To fix a bunion, you need surgery. And with the way surgery used to be done, you’d have to stay off your feet completely for up to six weeks. A surgery that’s been around for several years, called the lapiplasty, allows for a much quicker recovery time. 

“It allows for a more normal function to occur more quickly,” Bembynista said. 

A bunion is a bone deformity that actually occurs in the middle of your foot, further back than where you usually see the deformity. The lapiplasty starts with a cut to straighten the bone. 

“The accurate cut, along with the possibility of making sure that it’s held together just perfectly, so you can bear weight on it right away,” Bembynista said. 

After the cut, the bone is straightened and held in place with metal plates, relieving pain and getting the foot’s shape back. It allows a patient to spend maybe a week away from relatively normal activity. 

Stipe said that was a deciding factor for her. The fun shoes were a bonus. 

“I always loved stylish shoes, that was one of my favorite things always,” she said. “I’m ready to go out and buy fun sandals.” 

By and large, the lapiplasty has very positive reviews, but you need to contact your own doctor to find out if it’ll be the fix for you. Insurance does cover the procedure for most people. 

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