Neal M. Blitz, DPM, a New York City-based reconstructive podiatric surgeon and the Chief of Foot Surgery and Associate Chairman of Orthopaedics at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital in New York, has changed the playing field for people with bunions with his signature Bunionplasty(SM) procedure. Bunions are “bumps” on the joint at the base of the big toe that form when the bone or tissue at the joint moves out of place. As a result, the toe is forced to bend toward the others, causing the bunion and lots of pain!
The surgery, along with an implant he developed to hold the bone steady, has allowed for a much shorter, cast- and crutch-less recovery after bunion surgery. This allows many shoe-loving women to sport those strappy sandals and high-heeled shoes sooner. Blitz’s credo is “structure, function,and aesthetics.” He has made a name for himself by making feet look as good as they feel.
How do you define and strive to create foot beauty?
Foot beauty is a relatively new concept in cosmetic surgery and is the last frontier in plastic surgery altogether. In my practice, we create beauty by fixing structural problems in a cosmetic way. We strive to make feet look good inside and outside of a shoe.
What is your signature surgery?
Bunionplasty. I am a leader in bunion surgery and developed the Bunionplasty procedure, which is an aesthetic approach to bunion surgery. Additionally, I developed a medical implant (in conjunction with an orthopedic device manufacturer) that holds the bone steady in the corrected position (mainly for larger bunions), allowing my patients to put weight on their foot after surgery without the need for casts and crutches. This has drastically changed my bunion surgery practice in terms of recovery.
How did you get started in the foot beauty business?
I became interested in foot beatification as I was developing the Bunionplasty procedure. My Manhattan practice became inundated with women who couldn’t wear high heel or pointy-toed shoes because of bunions and their closets of shoes became inaccessible to them. After performing bunion surgery, I was able get women back into shoes they wanted. My patients began to show their “new” feet off rather than hiding them. This allowed me to consider the foot as a beauty focal point.
What sets you apart from others in your space?
First, my published techniques and procedures have revolutionized bunion surgery—especially when it comes to moderate-to-large bunions and the ability to walk on the foot after surgery (no casts or crutches). Secondly, I do extremely complicated cases that most surgeons will not touch. Thirdly, our Manhattan bunion surgery practice is also an international practice and some patients travel across the globe for surgery.
What is your foot beauty mantra?
The foot is no different than any other part of the body… it should not only feel good, but look good. My mantra is “structure, function, and aesthetics.” The foot is a complex structure and it’s important to balance the foot so it functions properly, and doing this while making the foot look good is an art.
What is the procedure you find most challenging?
I find revision bunion surgery the most intellectually challenging because every case is different and requires a completely different skill set to correct than primary bunion surgery.
How much of your caseload is revision bunion surgery?
About half of my practice is revision bunion surgery.
What charities do you support?
This year, we took a step away from foot-related causes and our practice has supported child cancer research with St. Baldricks Foundation.
Why do you love what you do?
Foot problems really interfere with people’s lives, so to be able to eliminate pain, improve the appearance of the foot, and/or get someone back into stylish shoes is truly a great feeling.