You've been diagnosed with bow legs and your doctor has recommended bow leg correction surgery. At this point, you probably have plenty of questions about how to prepare for the surgery in order to obtain the best possible outcome. You're right to think about this issue well ahead of time – here are some basics to consider.
What Are Bow Legs?
As you might guess from the name, bow legs is a condition in which the knees are bowed out, so even when your ankles are together, there is space between the knees. A normal condition in infants under the age of two, bow legs usually begin to straighten once the child starts walking. Bow legs can lead to knee problems, joint damage and chronic pain if not treated.
Treatment of Bow Legs
If caught early bow legs can sometimes be treated medically. Braces can help guide bone growth, although it is not effective in all cases and is less effective if treatment is started after the disease has progressed. Surgery is the preferred treatment if the patient doesn't respond to conservative therapy, if the deformity is severe, or in older adolescents and adults who were not treated as children. Guided growth surgery and tibial osteotomy are the two most common surgical procedures.
The Treatment Plan
The doctor will develop a treatment plan to correct your bow legs. He or she will recommend the best surgical method and explain the risks and benefits to you. In many cases, computer imagery can be used to show exactly how the surgery will work and what your legs will look like after they are healed. These programs use your actual X-rays and other diagnostic studies to develop the before and after pictures you will see. Make sure you understand all the issues; ask questions and read any patient education materials.
Preparing for Bow Leg Correction Surgery
As with all surgical procedures, you should have a thorough medical examination to rule out possible problems prior to surgery. If you smoke, stop at least two weeks before the surgery. Many surgeons recommend scrubbing the surgical area daily to reduce bacteria that might cause infection. Provide the doctor with a list of all your medications. A preoperative exercise program can promote knee strength and range of motion.
A minor case of bow-leggedness may not be a serious problem, although it may be a cosmetic issue. More serious cases should be treated to prevent problems such as arthritis, joint damage and disability in the future. If you have bow legs and feel you need treatment, you should consult a qualified orthopedic surgeon for recommendations and treatment.