Emerging Advances in Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery

New advances in bunion surgery have patients returning to their normal lifestyles quicker. A bunion, a bony bump, can form on the joint at the base of your big toe when the big toe pushes against the adjacent toe, causing the joint of the big toe to get larger and stick out. Bunion surgery has been refined to remove this painful bump. If you have a bunion, a foot and ankle specialist in The Woodlands, TX, can perform a minimally invasive procedure and have you back on your feet in no time. Learn more about treatment options.

Bunion Correction

Depending on the severity of the bunion, different minimally invasive techniques can be performed to relieve your pain from the bunion and realign your bones. These are:

·        Bone shaving: Shaving the side of the bone can provide temporary relief. This procedure reduces the size of the bunion and decreases the patient’s pain. However, it may grow back eventually—in a few months or a few years. This method may be used with elderly patients who won’t heal from bone reconstruction. Bone shaving is often performed along with other techniques. For example, the doctor may perform a percutaneous lateral release at the same time.

·        Bone cutting: This technique, also known as realignment osteotomy, has seen the most advances. The concept is the same as an open traditional osteotomy. The surgeon cuts the bone near the top of the metatarsal bone, realigns the bone, and fixes it in place using hardware, such as screws.

·        Bone mending: The big toe joint and the metatarsal bone are cut and shaped to fuse together to relive toe joint pain.


In the past, bunion surgery involved large incisions ranging from 2 to 6 inches. Now, surgeons make small incisions, which are no more than half an inch in size. Specialized instruments are inserted through the small incisions. The surgeon uses a fluoroscopy, a type of X-ray imaging, to see the bones and determine the proper alignment. In the past, the surgeon used a large, flat bone saw to shave the bone. Now, the surgeon uses small cone-shaped, high-speed bone burs.

The introduction of internal screws has improved the procedure. The screws stabilize the bones and hold them in the correct position during healing. This allows the patient to place weight on the toe right after surgery and removes the need for casts or crutches.

Best Candidates for Surgery

Some patients are better candidates than others for bunion surgery. The procedure works best for patients who are healthy and active. Patients with arthritis of the big toe joint may require a different procedure. Patients who smoke may have delayed bone healing and patients with osteoporosis may need a more restrictive course or immobilization after surgery. Finally, patients with diabetic neuropathy require careful monitoring and may need immobilization after surgery.


A minimally invasive realignment osteotomy with fixation appears to offer the best method to correct bunions. The smaller incisions reduce the pain associated with the procedure, the operation takes less time, and there’s less scarring. The insertion of screws allows for a walking recovery and there’s minimal disruption or trauma to the skin and soft tissue. Advancements in the procedure have made the patient’s recovery easier and shorter.

Do you have a bunion? Call Ankle & Foot Specialists at our Woodlands office, 936-271-3668. The best foot and ankle surgeons can use a minimally invasive surgery to correct your bunion, relieve your pain, and get you back to a normal routine.