Should you get bunion surgery?

At a recent appearance in New York City, one of the women who attended asked me whether or not she needed to get surgery on her bunion.  She had spoken to many people that have said she should or shouldn’t, and just didn’t know what to do.

For those of you who don’t have the privilege of knowing what a bunion is, it is a bump on the inside of your foot where your big toe meets your arch or on the outside of your foot where your little toe meets your foot. Unfortunately, my new “patient” was young, beautiful, and has been dealing with her “ugly bunion feet” for a few years.  

I went from skincare mode to podiatrist mode quickly, and began attacking her with questions.  Does your bunion hurt?  No.  Does it affect the way you walk?  No.  Does it wake you up at night?  No.  Then what is the problem?  “It’s ugly and doesn’t fit into pointy shoes”.  Uuugh.  

As a girl who loves her pointy shoes, I can relate.  But what I cannot relate to is that someone would want to have surgery on their feet if they are not in pain.  Unlike cosmetic surgery on the rest of your body, cosmetic surgery on joints of your feet is never simply cosmetic.  There is always a mechanical component involved that is inevitably never the same after surgery.  You don’t walk on your face after a face lift, do you?  

Bunion surgery is an intricate dance between skin, tendon and bone cutting with significant amounts of room for human error from both the surgeon and the patient.  Even with the world’s most trained surgeon, a piece of surgical art could be damaged with one misstep.   And as a nod to patients, who can really be compliant and “take it easy on their feet” for 6-8 weeks?  Not me.  

That being said, no matter who or what is to blame, you are never the same after foot surgery, or any surgery at that. Your body is a beautiful machine that amazingly heals itself, however it will never go back to perfection.  We all have our reasons to get rid of those ugly bumps on our feet but the fact of the matter is, foot surgery shouldn’t be performed unless your vital quality of life is affected, period.

If you are in significant pain, your other joints are being affected because of it, or god forbid your life is at stake, then obviously the risks outweigh the benefits.  Otherwise, keep on walking and embrace those bumps because the truth is, after the knife, there is a possibility that you will end up worse than when you started.