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Dr. Marco A Vargas of Foot & Ankle Associates, performed a revolutionary procedure for bunions using a device called a tightrope. While the procedure has been around for several months now, I felt that there were enough positive outcomes reported in the podiatry literature to feel comfortable enough to perform the procedure on my own patients. What makes the procedure revolutionary is that patients’ recovery time is half of what it is with traditional bunion surgery and there is significantly less postoperative pain due to no bone cut and less swelling. There is also a significantly reduced risk of postoperative complications due to the fact that there is no bone cut. There is no doubt that this procedure represents a huge advancement in bunion surgery.
Traditionally, the bunion procedures I perform involve a bone cut to reposition the bone which is held together with a pin or a screw. Following the surgery, patients walk around in a cast boot for 4-6 weeks to allow for bone healing. At this time they are able to return to regular shoes; however, postoperative swelling due to the bone cut, fixation and immobilization may limit their shoe gear choices for several weeks more. Although pain is mild to moderate for the first few days, it is usually well controlled with pain medication and physical therapy.
With the new tightrope procedure patients experience a faster recovery, less pain and fewer complications. Patients are out of the cast boot and into regular shoes as soon as 3 weeks postoperative. Because there is no bone cut made to reposition the bone, there is less swelling which means less pain and more choices of shoe gear sooner. Finally, should there be any complications due to the tightrope procedure, it is easy to remove making the procedure completely reversible so that there is no permanent alteration or deformity of the foot structure.
While the tightrope procedure is not indicated in every type of bunion deformity, it can be performed in the vast majority. It represents a revolutionary change in bunion surgery and will allow more people to undergo bunion correction due to a faster recovery, less pain and fewer complications. This means fewer days missed at work or less down time with the kids – 2 of the main reasons many people avoid bunion correction.