03 October 2016
A Watford surgeon specialising in foot and ankle treatments has described the virtually scar-free bunion surgery he performs as a ‘step in the right direction’ for all sufferers.
“They can be painful and they can be ugly - but bunions don’t have to ruin your life - and they certainly don’t mean an end to wearing fashionable footwear,” said orthopaedic surgeon Mr Rod Coull.
Using keyhole surgery Mr Coull, a consultant at Spire Bushey Hospital in Watford, is removing bunions without leaving the large scar traditionally associated with the operation.
“Bunions can be hereditary but many are caused or made worse by ill-fitting shoes - which is one of the reasons they are up to 20 times more likely to occur in women than in men,” said Mr Coull, a consultant at Spire Bushey Hospital in Watford.
“They are also much more common in affluent countries, backing up the footwear theory. However, people aren’t going to stop wearing fashionable shoes and there isn’t much we can do if it is in the genes so we have to look at the best ways of treating them surgically.
“Using keyhole surgery I can take away the pain caused by the bunions without leaving the large scar associated with a traditional operation,” he added.
One person delighted by the minimally-invasive procedure carried out by Mr Coull is fashion-conscious mum-of-two Andrea Costi.
Forty-six-year-old Andrea has had painful bunions removed from both feet and is now back in heels and on the dance floor – with her ‘flat and ugly sensible shoes’ carefully hidden in the back of the wardrobe!
Company secretary at a dress manufacturers, Andrea, who lives with husband Cos and daughters Michaela and Stephanie in London Colney, St Albans, said: “It didn’t matter what shoes I wore, nothing could ease the shooting pains I was constantly experiencing, starting from my big toe through my entire foot and ankle area.
“You could hardly notice the actual bunion but it was causing me excruciating pain. It meant walking was painful and my regular visits to the gym almost stopped altogether.”
A member of the British Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society, Mr Coull explained: “A bunion can get worse over time so, if left untreated, it can get bigger and become more painful.
“The usual operation involves the bones at the site of the bunion being cut and realigned to straighten the toe. In the past this had resulted in a large scar at the side of the foot. While the scarring is preferable to the pain this procedure means you don’t have to have either!
“In my view the traditional approach leaves too much scar tissue which can result in stiffness in the joint. The keyhole procedure I use is popular in many parts of Europe but there are only a handful of surgeons in the UK carrying out the operation at the moment.
“In most cases the patient can leave the hospital on the day of the operation - in fact it is so straight-forward that I wonder why people put up with the pain for so long before deciding to have surgery.”
As for Andrea, she joked: “I am fully recovered and back to my day to day lifestyle - which includes the gym as well as some dancing! The difference is I can now wear whatever shoes I want and the only thing that makes me wince is their price!”