Throughout her life, Andrea has been impacted by pain from severe bunions on both feet. After one less-than-ideal surgery on her left foot in her mid-20s, Andrea was hesitant to correct the bunions on her right foot. But after undergoing the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy, she is back in action in the gym and wearing the fashion-forward heels she loves.
Andrea P and her family are constantly on the go. Ever the adventurer, Andrea has traveled the world, most recently to Mexico with friends to bicycle across the country and visit historical ruins. She is also mom to two children, ages 11 and 13, who love activities including soccer, art, and music. The family enjoys going out on their boat together.
Andrea’s bunions initially showed up in her teens; the one on her left foot was significantly more severe than the right. Like many people, her bunions are hereditary.
“I would have holes on the inside and outside of my shoes. And pain? Oh, yeah,” Andrea says. Despite these issues, she decided to wait on surgery until it finally became too much around age 25 and she visited a surgeon, skipping nonsurgical bunion correctors because “there was nothing else you could really do about it.”
She was interested to learn that bunions form when the bones that make up the metatarsal joint of the toe move out of alignment. “I didn’t realize how far the bone had separated out,” she says.
Her surgeon performed a traditional “open” bunion procedure, which requires a large incision for the surgeon to visualize the repair. Unfortunately, Andrea’s experience was negative from the moment she woke up from surgery.
“I didn’t know pain could be so bad until I woke up from that surgery. I didn’t fully, really, truly recover until almost a year afterward. My foot was so swollen. I could only wear flats, even after a year, because my foot was so sore, and regaining the mobility of my toes was more of a challenge than I was expecting or than was disclosed to me,” she says.
Andrea still has hypersensitivity, pain, and periodic swelling in her left foot. Additionally, the bunion was not entirely corrected so she still has a small bump on her left foot.
This experience discouraged her from exploring surgery on her right foot—where a bunion on her big toe and a bunionette on her pinky toe were getting progressively worse—for many years.
In her mid-30s, Andrea was going through shoes and socks quickly again due to the “constant rubbing” of her bunion and bunionette. “I was replacing my gym shoes all the time. Even socks, after a certain point, would get holes,” she says. In addition, the pain was beginning to impact her favorite activities.
Andrea decided it was time to consider surgery again. She saw another surgeon, who chose not to operate at that time. But after two additional years her bunions had progressed even further.
That wait proved to be a good thing: When Andrea came back to explore surgery, her surgeon had recently begun performing the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy. “He was really excited about it,” Andrea says.
The Arthrex Bunionectomy procedure uses fluoroscopic imaging assistance to correct the toe’s alignment, which in turn removes the characteristic bump on the side of the foot. It is performed through tiny incisions, rather than the 2- to 6-inch incisions required in traditional “open” surgeries. Her surgeon explained to Andrea how the less invasive Arthrex Bunionectomy meant she wouldn’t have large scars like she has on her left foot from her earlier procedure.¹
Even more important to Andrea was the potential for a quicker and less painful recovery than the one she had experienced with her first surgery.
Andrea’s bunions were so severe that several of her toes had begun to cross over one another. Her small toe “looked like a macaroni noodle,” she jokes. Despite the severity, her surgeon successfully corrected Andrea’s bunion and bunionette.
Right away, she didn’t experience the throbbing and swelling she did during her first, traditional surgery. Andrea prefers not to take pain medications and was happy that she needed only a very low dose for a few days after surgery.
Even better, she was able to quickly transition from a surgical shoe to sneakers and get back into the gym within three months. At that point, she was able to walk on the treadmill and lift weights, and by four to six months was back to full activity.
“The recovery was completely different because I didn’t have the swelling, I didn’t have the pain that continued to progress, so I was able to push myself and learn my limits,” she says.
Andrea’s extensive shoe collection is also back in action after her positive experience with the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy.
“My foot looks really pretty! My right foot is prettier than my left. It’s just being able to wear shoes and not feel self-conscious,” she says excitedly.
Unbeknownst to Andrea, the ongoing inflammation in her left foot was exacerbated by an undiagnosed autoimmune disorder. In April 2020, she was finally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, which impacts the thyroid and can cause symptoms including joint pain and stiffness.
She believes that undergoing a less invasive procedure like the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy has helped her avoid similar inflammation in her right foot.
“The inflammation can have a huge impact on your life,” Andrea says. “If you’re doing stuff that’s less invasive on your body, it truly goes a long way when you’re already battling another war.”
These days, Andrea tells anyone she knows with a bunion about the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy. Many tell her they have chosen not to undergo surgery due to “horror stories” they have heard about other procedures. “But I tell them, ‘I’ve had those surgeries and I know what you’re saying, but this surgery is not the same. It is cutting edge’.”
How does Andrea sum up her experience and what she tells others about the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy? “Hands down, do it!” she says.
1. Lee M, Walsh J., Smith MM, Ling J, Wines A, Lam P. Hallux valgus correction comparing percutaneous chevron/Akin (PECA) and open scarf/Akin osteotomies. Foot Ankle Int. 2017;38(8):838-846. doi:10.1177/1071100717704941
Surgeons using the Arthrex Minimally Invasive Bunionectomy procedure have been trained in minimally invasive surgery for bunion correction.
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