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Northern Light Podiatry helps bunion sufferers with innovative new procedure

Date: 03/11/2024

Bunions, those bony bumps at the base of the big toe, can be painful and disrupt a person’s daily living - even making walking painful. Approximately 25% of people in the U.S. have bunions, including Cherie Merrill from Monroe, who suffered in pain for nine months.  

“I’m on my feet 90% of the day as executive director of the Belfast Food Kitchen, and my seven grandkids keep me very active,” says Merrill. The busy 55-year old is even taking an EMT course to become part of the local ambulance crew as a way to give back to her community. But Merrill notes, ”After this awful bunion developed, I had to slow down, and by the end of each day, I was in so much pain, I couldn’t even walk. It started as a minor pain in my left foot, and progressed to worse pain as the months went on.”

After being told that different shoes could fix her issue (which it did not), Merrill was happy to learn about an innovative new bunion surgery performed at Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville and Northern Light Sebasticook Valley Hospital in Pittsfield. Podiatric surgeons are helping people like Merrill get back on their feet using a new tool in their toolbox – a special surgery called Lapiplasty® 3D Bunion Correction®. 

Merrill recalls, “When I was first considering this surgery, my grandkids and I watched a video about Lapiplasty® about a million times. We were all fascinated and learned a lot about bunions. This procedure is amazing.” 

Dr-Mychak-and-Cherie-Feb-2024.jpgAshley Mychak, DPM, podiatric surgeon with Northern Light Podiatry in Pittsfield agrees with Merrill. “I am very excited about Lapiplasty® to correct a patient’s bunion pain and deformity.” Dr. Mychak explains, “It offers a 3D correction of the bunion at the root of the problem which is an unstable joint in the midfoot. Addressing the bunion where the deformity occurs allows for better long-term correction and decreases the risk of the bunion returning. We have seen that this special surgical procedure allows for earlier weightbearing on the foot in a surgical boot and a quicker return to normal shoes than with other types of bunion surgeries.”

Dr-Jared-Wilkinson,-DPM-Feb-2024-(1).jpegJared Wilkinson, DPM, with Northern Light Podiatry in Waterville shares, “A common misconception is that a bunion can just be shaved off, but bunions are much more complicated than that. Lapiplasty® allows us to return the bone to its proper alignment.” Dr. Wilkinson adds that the procedure is still bone surgery, which takes time to heal. “Each patient’s experience will be individual, but we are typically seeing great results overall. It is very gratifying to help people get back to their favorite activities and walking in their regular shoes without pain.”

Bunions can appear in people of all ages, both male and female. While Lapiplasty® addresses the unstable joint, it also corrects the cosmetic appearance of the protruding bunion.

Dr. Wilkinson and Dr. Rich Samson perform the special surgery at Inland Hospital and Dr. Mychak at Sebasticook Valley Hospital. 

Cherie-Merrill-Feb-2024.jpgAt Merrill’s three-week post-surgery checkup, Dr. Mychak called her progress excellent. Merrill is starting to walk without crutches at home and she will be in a surgical boot a while longer, but she’s feeling very encouraged about her recovery so far. While each situation is different, typically, patients can get back into comfortable shoes, like tennis shoes, approximately eight weeks after the procedure.

Merrill understands that she won’t get back to normal overnight, but after a painful foot for most of last year, she is grateful for this new step forward. “It’s exciting to think about getting my quality of life back. I am determined to not be limping and missing out on activities when we go camping this summer with all the kids. And I’m motivated because I still have a long bucket list of dreams to achieve!”  

Most insurances cover the surgery if medically necessary. Ask your primary care provider for a referral to Northern Light Podiatry in Pittsfield or Waterville, or for more information visit