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Bunion Surgery May Be a Bad Choice for You, Warns Dr. Oz

Tim Boyer's picture
Bunion Surgery

Are you considering bunion surgery because your feet look less than ideal and you cannot fit into high heeled shoes any longer? Dr. Oz warns viewers that choosing surgery may not be the answer to your foot problems.

“Today we are talking about a painful and often crippling condition that could affect more than half of you at some point in your life,” says Dr. Oz as he warns viewers that treating your bunions with bunion surgery may be a bad choice for you. “Many of you will turn to surgery, but will surgery cause more problems than the bunions themselves?”

With Dr. Oz is special celebrity guest Marilyn Milian, a former Florida state circuit court judge who currently presides over the popular television series The People's Court and who herself suffers from bunions and turned to surgery as a solution. “The aftermath is very, very, very, very painful and involves slow recovery,” says Judge Milian who wearing a walking cast at the time of the filming was 8 weeks into recovery from her bunion surgery and describes how that at week 4 she was screaming in excruciating pain.

According to Dr. Oz, the pain Judge Milian went through is not uncommon following bunion surgery during the recovery period which is approximately 6-8 weeks long—often necessitating wearing a cast and using a small leg scooter to get around in because you cannot bear weight on the treated foot during this period. However, in some cases, recovery from bunion surgery (including experiencing pain) can take several months up to a year before healing completely.

So what causes bunions? Unfortunately they can develop not only from wearing narrow high heeled shoes with a small toe box, but also could be a matter of genetics. A family history of bunions is one of the risk factors of developing painful bunions reports Dr. Oz who adds that a third risk factor is arthritis.

“The third issue is actually arthritis, because when you get pain in your foot, you walk differently and that can throw the bone off,” says Dr. Oz as he points out to a diagram that illustrates how bunions can lead to a separation of the joints of the bones of the big toe. When joint separation is severe, the bones have to be trimmed and sometimes broken and inserted with a metal pin to manipulate the big toe into a normal position he tells viewers.

However, in cases where joint separation is not an issue, the majority of bunion surgeries involve slightly less invasive measures that involves sawing off bony processes on the big toe called exostoses using a surgical procedure known as an “Exostectomy.” An exostectomy is necessary to prevent damage to nearby nerves and tendons that are pressed upon by the bony processes.

More recently less invasive bunion surgery techniques have met with some success. When Dr. Oz asked Judge Milian whether it was worth it after having gone through all the pain she did with her bunion current surgery, she told Dr. Oz that she will have to wait and see how it turns out for her. “I am hoping that I will be able to say without any question that it was probably worth it for me. It is very much an individual question for each person,” says Judge Milian.

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Also with Dr. Oz is special guest podiatrist Crystal Holmes, DPM, who tells viewers that bunion surgery should not be performed just because someone does not like the physical appearance of their foot due to bunions. Furthermore, she says that when bunion surgery is decided upon, it should only be done after conventional bunion treatment methods have been tried to relieve the pain that can come from bunions. “If you can’t take it [the pain] anymore, that’s when surgery should be discussed with your doctor,” says Dr. Holmes.

Her recommendation of non-surgical methods to try first to alleviate your bunion issues include:

1. Avoid wearing high heel shoes with a narrow toe box

2. Go with heels not quite so high with a more rounded toe box

3. Use bunion pads that reduce the friction between the big toe and the shoe

4. Try inserts designed specifically for high heeled shoes

5. Increase the flexibility of your toes and foot with an exercise consisting of repeated attempts to pick up a golf ball by grasping the ball between the bottom edges of your toes against the ball of your foot.

The take home message from The Dr. Oz Show is that while bunions may be an inconvenience and aesthetically unpleasant, people should choose bunion surgery only if their foot pain is so great that surgery is the only alternative. Never choose bunion surgery in hopes that it will improve your foot’s sex appeal or enable your foot to fit into high heels again—in many cases, bunion surgery will still not make wearing high heels a possibility again.

For an informative article about foot health, click-on the titled link, “Dr. Oz: Three Warning Signs from Your Feet.”

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket
Reference: The Dr. Oz Show



I think it isn't just pain from bunions though. People lose their balance and that makes it difficult to do some of the activities that maybe in the past were enjoyable. - dance, martial arts, standing on a boat deck. I guess it is an individual choice and might depend on your lifestyle, age and many other factors. Cosmetically speaking I agree - who cares?
Very nice that you have a judge who has suffered maybe a not so good result, to air to the masses. I would venture to say that if the surgery was generally ineffective, we wouldn't be doing. I didn't see the show, I saw a blurb. I would say this airing was in poor taste based on what I've read.
There is a lot of incorrect information in this article including etiology of bunions and appropriate surgical planning. Last I saw Dr Oz has no background in orthopedic surgery. This is the same concept as asking an orthopedic surgeon if a cardio thoracic procedure is truly indicated. Maybe when discussing a surgical procedure, a person should contact the type of surgeon that does them rather than a tv personality that specializes in another area of medicine and brings in just one person with one experience to site as evidence?
Hi, I just want to point out that the article is about what Dr. Oz said/reported on his show about bunion surgery--it is not meant to be an authoritive guide on bunion surgery. If you are an expert in this field, we would like to invite you to write a guest article about bunion surgery and what you feel the public should know aside from what Dr. Oz reports. Thanks for the input!
Many news casters and reporters and bloggers have no experience with that which they report on so its so unfair to be critical of the Dr for "reporting" on it. He wasn't the expert being consulted he had one of them and someone with personal experience. So be critical yes, challenge it yes but don't shoot the messenger!
I've had bunions since I entered high school. They are not from wearing high heeled shoes, as the only thing I wore up to that point was sneakers. I did run over 10 miles a week, which could be a cause. My mom did not approve of me wearing high heels, and I didn't enjoy it. The bunions have grown to be slightly more painful, but they are small and probably don't require surgery. I would like them removed because they do cause a small amount of pain, and are embarrassing. They could be genetic.
Contrary to conventional wisdom and the information in this article, bunions are not genetic and are not caused by aging (the epidemiological proof is staggering) Bunions are just one of a myriad of foot problems caused by wearing shoes. Bunions are especially prevalent in people who are active in their shoes, like dancers, runners and other athletes Shoes focus unnaturally high forces on the Metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joints, while imprisoning the toes at awkward angles One of the most damaging ways shoes cripple the foot is by ensuring a lack of MTP joint dorsiflexion over decades Like anything in your health, it is best to address foot problems as early as possible. Your success in reversing a bunion is mostly determined by how arthritic the joint has become, so early diagnosis and treatment is the key. You can reverse bunions by wearing "Correct Toes" toe spacers with sandals or very wide toe box shoes, like Altras or Crocs. If you want to prevent future bunions, you must stop wearing the kinds of shoes (virtually all standard shoes) that cause them.
"If your parents' feet were not genetically suited or wearing shoes, chances are your feet are not genetically suited or wearing shoes. " Ken Bob Saxton :>)