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What Is Pediatric Bunion Surgery?

Bunion surgery performed on children and teenagers is referred to as pediatric bunion surgery. It’s typically considered when conservative treatment fails to adequately relieve pain and discomfort associated with a bunion deformity.

The goals of pediatric bunion surgery differ from adult procedures in a few key ways:

  • Intervention earlier allows correction before permanent changes occur in bone growth and joint structures.
  • Younger patients require a durable correction that maintains proper position under remaining development.
  • Recovery time should minimize interruption to demanding school and activity schedules.


Cutting-edge procedures like Lapiplasty are specially designed to meet these requirements in patients under 21 years old, realigning essential architecture for lifelong optimal foot function.

What Are Bunions?

Bunions are a bony-like growth that forms at the joint where the big toe meets the rest of the foot. The condition causes the big toe to point toward the other toes instead of outward. Bunions are typically bilateral, meaning they appear on each foot.

No one knows exactly why bunions form, but the condition is most likely hereditary and more common in females than males. Bunions often don’t appear until after age 10.

Non-Surgical treatment for bunions may include:

Bunion Pads & Sleeves: Adding cushioning pads around the bunion joint or wearing protective silicone sleeves relieves irritation from shoe pressure.

Icing & Anti-Inflammatories: Applying ice and taking over-the-counter meds like ibuprofen reduces swelling and inflammation related to bunions.

Wide-Toe Box Shoes: Wearing properly fitted shoes with a wide toe box provides more room and prevents extra friction over the bunion.

Children’s Orthotics: Custom orthotic inserts support proper foot alignment and redistribute weight away from the protruding bunion.

Bunion Stretching & Exercises:
Gently stretching the joint capsule and strengthening foot muscles brings increased blood flow to help manage bunion discomfort.

Pediatric Foot & Ankle nearly always recommends beginning with non-surgical treatment for pediatric bunions. Children’s feet keep growing until age 15 or 16. Surgery performed while the child’s feet are still growing risks harming the growth plate. There is also greater risk a second surgery would be needed, since bones and joints are still developing.

Who Needs Pediatric Bunion Surgery?

As with adults, bunions in children are fairly common. And, in both cases, the condition rarely requires surgery. Most children do not experience pain from their bunions and conservative treatment is typically very successful. However, if your child’s condition is severe, causing pain and/or difficulty wearing shoes, bunion surgery may be indicated.

Types of Bunion Surgery

Osteotomy: This realigns bone and removes the bunion bump. However, osteotomies have high recurrence rates in younger patients as bone continues growing. Stability is temporary since fixation is with screws only.

Lapidus: The Lapidus bunion surgery fuses foot bones together for stability. It has the lowest reoccurrence rate but requires 8 weeks non-weightbearing in a cast and 3-6 months for bone fusion to occur.

Lapiplasty® 3D Bunion Correction:
The innovative choice offering permanent 3D realignment and quick recovery. This is the only technique built to provide lasting results throughout a teen’s remaining growth years. Secure stabilization means most normal activities can be resumed by 12 weeks after Lapiplasty®.

Learn More about Lapiplasty »

Lapiplasty Bunion Surgery for Teens

Recently approved for ages 13 and up, Lapiplasty provides complete 3D correction of bunions and their root cause – an unstable metatarsal bone. The surgeon rotates and realigns the metatarsal surgically, securing it in place with patented titanium mini-plates to remain stable as teen feet finish developing.

Unlike traditional surgery, Lapiplasty maintains strong, precise results permanently without recurrence over time. Teens can bear weight earlier and recover in weeks versus months with outdated methods. And by rebuilding stability and alignment of the foundation early on, complications like arthritis are avoided down the road. 

With over 20 medical studies demonstrating excellent outcomes for all age groups, Lapiplasty offers adolescents the most reliable bunion correction throughout their remaining growth years. The procedure produces high success rates, low recurrence, and high satisfaction – significantly better than historical surgical techniques.

What to Expect After Bunion Surgery

While recovery varies for each patient, here is the typical timeline:

First Week: Your child will be in a bandage and splint and instructed to keep weight off the foot when standing or walking. Swelling and discomfort peaks during this time. Pain medication is provided to keep surgical pain well-controlled.

Weeks 2-6: At the 2-week mark, a protective boot replaces the splint which allows gentle weight-bearing. Teens use crutches for balance over the next few weeks. Around 6 weeks, they can transition to normal shoes like sneakers as long as still swelling-free.

Weeks 6-12:
In the follow-up period, activity increases as the tibia and fibula fully mend. Most non high-impact interests, light sports, and physical education classes may be resumed by 3 months after surgery.

Full Recovery:
Complete healing of deeper tissues occurs between 6-12 months post-op. During the second half of the first year, any lingering discomfort should resolve and rigorous pivoting sports can be played again without concern.

Dr. Jarman's ABFAS Certification

Dr. Mikkel Jarman, DPM, FACFAS, has received his Foot and Reconstructive Rearfoot/Ankle (RRA) Surgery board certification from the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery (ABFAS). This certification symbolizes the highest level of expertise that can be achieved in the foot and ankle profession, reflecting advanced proficiency and knowledge.

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