Dr. Oz and Bunion Surgery

Love that Dr. Oz.  He has started a real conversation in this country on healthy living, eating, and exercise.  He’s also a cardiac surgeon, researcher, educator, and TV, radio and book personality, and not a bad looking fella.  So I must say I was more than a little disappointed when I watched a segment where Dr. Oz interviewed Judge Marilyn Milian, who has surpassed Judge Wopner as the longest serving judge sitting on the proverbial TV bench on The People’s Court, and who recently had a less than favorable bunion surgery experience.  You can watch the segment for yourselves, and then let’s dissect it together, point by point.

Judge Milian emerges dramatically onto the stage in a tall CAM walker, or cast boot, and then proceeds to regale the audience with tales of her “excruciatingly painful” recovery.  Some of my NYC podiatry patients do walk in a CAM walker for a few weeks after surgery, but only those who have undergone a more extensive procedure to correct a severe deformity – not as was described in the show for a more common procedure.  In 10 years, none of my bunion surgery patients have spent more than 4 weeks in a boot, and that level of pain is very unusual.

Dr. Oz and Judge Milian discuss the causes of bunions, including high heels, arthritis, and family history.  Wrong, wrong, and right.  High heels can accelerate or exacerbate the deformity, but contrary to what your Mom told you, are not a cause.  Arthritis is an effect, not a cause of bunions.  And yes, family history is the most important factor in the development of bunions.  There are legions of women in high heels throughout NYC and beyond, and only a small fraction will develop bunions.  And my apologies in advance to Dr. Crystal Holmes, featured on the show.  Picking up balls with one’s toes does not prevent or slow the progress of bunions, it just leads to strong toes with bunions.

The technique demonstrated, during which Dr. Oz claims: “this is literally how they do it” is quite not.  I generally try to avoid divulging too many details on how the procedure is actually performed, but if you must, see my cosmetic bunion surgery video for further information. Of course, viewer discretion is advised as with all surgical videos.

And of course, advising against the procedure based on the experience of one patient is the equivalent of Dr. Oz bringing out a bad cardiac surgery outcome onto the show and advising against bypass surgery.  One patient does not make a cohort study.  If the outcomes of bunion surgery were so consistently horrible, I wouldn’t be performing the surgery 2-3 times per week on average, it just would not be gratifying or ethical to inflict so much harm on a regular basis.

So if you’re considering bunion surgery, consider your current quality of life with bunions versus your life without bunions.  Then, research the procedure and find a bunion surgeon with a lot of experience with whom you feel comfortable.  Make sure you are well prepared and in the zone for the surgery, and then don’t look back.  And please, do not watch Dr. Oz for advice on bunion surgery.

See you in the office.

Ernest Isaacson