Is laser surgery for bunions possible?
From time to time, patients ask if our minimally invasive bunion surgery is performed with a laser. To my knowledge (updated 2017) there is no doctor that performs bunion surgery with a laser.
I often wonder how this could happen. Then I jump to why the patient would want a laser bunion removal.
Lasers are used during some foot procedures such as wart and fungus removal, but I have not been made aware of any doctor cutting foot bones with a laser to remove a bunion. I have been on the receiving side of laser eye surgery, which has worked out pretty well – so who knows if laser bunion removal will ever come to be – I never say never….well, I guess I should say that I very infrequently say never, but none exist that I know of.
Then, I think, why would anyone want, or request laser bunion surgery.
There certainly would be advantages of laser bunion surgery – as the intensity of a cutting laser typically results in less bleeding. When a cut is made with a laser, it also cauterizes small blood vessels. The laser would not reduce bone bleeding, which is good because a bleeding bone is necessary for healing.
The laser would have to be powerful and intense enough to cut bone while not cutting things like skin, tendons or muscles. This delicate balance is tough to control.
The cosmetic result may be better as well.
Have you ever seen a scar from conventional open-foot bunion surgery? It often heals as a long gash, crisscrossed with stitches. Think of a Frankenstein or Halloween-style scar. Very unsightly. A laser might leave less of a scar.
So, I guess that trying some form of laser bunion surgery would appeal to many people if it was possible.
Bunion Surgery Scar
I will say that at Northwest Surgery Center, we do the closest thing to laser bunion surgery. We make 3 very small incisions. Only a single stitch is needed to close each incision.
We use special, minimally invasive surgical instruments and our incisions are likely smaller than a cut a laser would make. Maybe the next time a patient asks if we do laser bunion removal, instead of saying: “no, that is not possible”, I will say, “not yet, but we offer something even better!”
Almost every foot doctor learns how to do open-foot surgery with long incisions. We are taught that it doesn’t matter how long the incision is, because wounds heal side to side, not lengthwise. I would partially disagree with this.
Cutting thru multiple layers of skin and soft tissue can create large scars not just on top of the skin but also under it, within the foot. This can lead to decreased motion or movement of the toe(s). A longer cut means a greater chance of cutting something such as nerves which can lead to pain or numbness, or blood vessels which can lead to a lot of bleeding and swelling.
If you have a bunion, take care of it the easy way at Northwest Surgery Center. Schedule a free consultation today.
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Frequently asked questions about bunion surgery:
The entire process of minimally invasive bunion surgery takes about 90 minutes including pre-op and post-op. The actual procedure takes about 45 minutes.
The Doctors of Podiatric Medicine at Northwest Surgery Center have never heard of bunion removal surgery being done with a laser.
There are two main types of bunion surgery: Traditional open-foot bunion surgery and minimally invasive bunion surgery.