New Achilles surgery easier with less scarring

CHICAGO, Ill. – Weronika Molinski was all set to start a new fitness lifestyle last summer, but one misstep changed everything. 

"It was irony, I guess, because I was just like yea, I'm finally fit, going to climb mountains in Colorado, and all of a sudden, you can't walk for a few months," Molinski explained.

She ruptured her Achilles tendon. Traditional surgery leaves behind a long, vertical scar. But Molinski's doctor thought she'd make a good candidate for a new, minimally-invasive surgery.

"I found the complications of that incision not healing to be the major problem with fixing Achilles tendons, and we're always looking for newer, better ways to do this," Adam Schiff, MD, Orthopaedic Surgeon at Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago said.

The new surgery is like knitting. A device is used to attach sutures to the tendon, and pull the sutures outside and inside the skin. What's left behind is a much smaller, horizontal scar.

"The benefit is, by making a small incision, you're minimizing the risk associated with fixing a tendon repair," Schiff explained.

"It was just great to finally walk again," Molinksi said.

 For Molinski, a safer recovery has made her that much more determined.  

"I just know it was a huge life lesson, and just to appreciate being able to walk," she said.

She is now training for a 5k run, one step at a time. 

Experts say there may be less risk of infection for patients who undergo the newer procedure. Eight out of 10 people who undergo either traditional open surgery or the subcutaneous repair are able to return to sports after they heal.