Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center physicians create a new surgical procedure for bunions

Posted on 1/31/2017

Pictured, from left: Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center foot and ankle specialists J. Benjamin Jackson III, M.D., W. Bret Smith, D.O., and Ryan M. Putnam, M.D.

Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center physicians have created a new procedure to help patients with bunions. The procedure, Lapiplasty™, is three-dimensional bunion correction that uses advanced methods that allow many patients to put weight on their feet within days after the surgery. It also allows patients to return to their normal activities including sports after the bones are completely healed.

“We are committed to offering quality solutions and helping patients select the most appropriate treatment for their condition,” said W. Bret Smith, D.O., orthopedic surgeon at Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center, a Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group practice.

Smith, who specializes in foot and ankle surgery, added, “The goal is to help patients understand that they can have and lead pain-free lives with healthy feet. This will improve their quality of life and help them have an active lifestyle.”

Lapiplasty™ differences include:

  • Treating the three-dimensional deformity of the bunion, not the more common two-dimensional treatment
  • Decreasing the chance of recurrence of the bunion 
  • Using innovative implants to allow for early postoperative weight bearing
  • Operating with instrumented surgical techniques that decrease operative time

Faith Demars can speak personally about how this procedure has helped her because she knows the pain of bunions all too well. She recalls having bunions for as long as she can remember. It wasn’t until her 30s that they started to hurt in shoes – flats, heels and sneakers. It didn’t matter what she wore, her feet hurt.

Some research suggests a genetic link as a factor. Individuals with a family history of bunions are more likely to develop bunions at some point during their lifetime.

“It got to a point where, after two hours, I couldn’t walk in shoes,” Demars said. “They would also bother me in sneakers.” Demars had surgery on both feet in 2016 – the right foot in April and the left in December.

She joins others who had symptoms that include a bulging bump at the base of the big toe, soreness around the joint and intermittent pain. Over time, the bunion pushes the big toe inward, which can squeeze other toes into abnormal positions. The painful and unsightly bulges that develop at the base of the big toe are not necessarily the result of fancy footwear; heredity plays a part.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to being active without pain,” Demars said. “I use to work out a lot, but after a workout my feet would hurt really bad. It is going to be nice for it to be different.”

Palmetto Health-USC Orthopedic Center treats many different conditions that can affect the foot and ankle including surgical and nonsurgical options. This treatment is only one of many options available to patients. Each treatment is specific to the individual patient’s needs and the progression of the bunion issue. For more information, visit or call 803-296-7846.

About Palmetto Health
Palmetto Health, the largest health care system in the South Carolina Midlands region and one of the state’s largest employers, comprises more than 15,000 team members, physicians and volunteers working together to fulfill Palmetto Health’s Vision: To be remembered by each patient as providing the care and compassion we want for our families and ourselves. The system includes six acute-care hospitals in the Midlands—Palmetto Health Baptist, Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge, Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Palmetto Health Heart Hospital, Palmetto Health Richland and Palmetto Health Tuomey. In the South Carolina Upstate region, Palmetto Health also co-owns Baptist Easley Hospital. Recognized nationally as one of the best places to work and receive care, the system also includes the Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group, the region’s largest multispecialty group, which serves as the entry point to the health care system with more than 500 providers serving patients in more than 80 practices and nearly 100 locations. Palmetto Health also is supported by two 501 (c)(3) foundations, and trains the next generation of physicians through its 24 residency and fellowship programs affiliated with the University of South Carolina School of Medicine. For more information, visit or call 803-296-CARE (2273).


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