If you’ve been told you need foot surgery, you may have the option of choosing between open surgery or minimally invasive procedures. But what are the differences between each option? And how can you make the best decision for your health? Keep reading to find out!

What is Minimally Invasive Surgery?

When you choose minimally invasive foot surgery, Dr. Alvin Cowans uses the latest advances in technology to treat your foot and ankle pain, whether you’re suffering from a  tailor's bunion or hammertoe; corns or bone spurs; crossed toes or metatarsalgia; Achilles tendon pain, neuroma or even
plantar fasciitis.

What makes an MIS procedure so unique? Dr. Cowans uses special surgical instruments, along with advanced imaging techniques in order to gain greater visibility at the treatment area. As a result, he is able to perform the surgery using small access incisions.

What is Open Surgery?

When you choose open, or traditional, surgery, Dr. Cowans will make a standard incision at the start of your procedure. This will provide plenty of room for him to access your bones, tendons, and ligaments. Then, depending on the procedure you’ve elected to undergo, he may use stabilizing devices such as plates or screws during your surgery. This will help prevent shifting or destabilization after your procedure is complete.  

Minimally Invasive Surgery vs Open Surgery: Advantages Dr. Alvin Cowans wearing his surgical scrubs

Both surgical procedures come with advantages and disadvantages. When choosing between MIS or open surgery, our podiatrist in Powder Springs will help you weigh your options and determine if you’re a candidate for MIS. In the meantime, consider the advantages of each surgery type.

MIS Advantages

When choosing minimally invasive foot surgery, you can enjoy:

  • A shorter procedure time
  • Reduced recovery period and shorter down time
  • Minimal scarring at the incision site
  • Less risk for bleeding and/or infection
  • Many MIS procedures allow patients to avoid general anesthetic

Open Surgery Advantages

If you choose traditional, or open surgery, you may:


  • Receive more targeted treatment
  • Enjoy a lower chance of recurring problems following your procedure
  • Be better able to address complex conditions and deformities

Disadvantages of Open or MIS Surgery

After viewing the advantages of each surgical approach, you may feel like it’s impossible to choose one over another. But you also need to be aware of the disadvantages for each kind of surgery in order to make a truly informed decision.

MIS Disadvantages

  • There is a slightly higher risk of less-then optimal surgical outcomes
  • Patients with complex conditions or arthritis may not be eligible for MIS

Open Surgery Disadvantages

  • Your recovery period is longer after open surgery
  • More down time
  • You have a higher risk of surgical complications, some of which—like nerve damage and infection—may be surgery
  • Post-surgical pain levels are more severe

Additional Considerations

Recently, Orthopedics Today published an article weighing in on whether MIS surgical outcomes were worthwhile. Since Dr. Cowans has completed the intense training required to perform this surgical method, we read the outcomes eagerly. And here’s what was reported.

In the past, the author revealed, MIS techniques were less advanced, resulting in less than ideal outcomes. Recently, though, the report revealed, “improvements in tools, implants and surgical training combined with a growing body of literature have inspired renewed popularity of these surgeries.”

Perhaps more importantly, they note, “At the end of the day, when you are keeping incisions small [and] preserving blood flow and biology to the surgical site, you are going to have quicker healing, improved bone and tissue healing, faster recovery and better patient satisfaction and better patient care, which is what we are all after.”

Looking forward, the study concludes, MIS is likely to become a leading option for many different foot and ankle procedures. Especially as tools and techniques continue to advance. In the meantime, however, choosing between open and minimally invasive surgery will often be a decision made based on Dr. Cowan’s recommendation, your personal comfort and preference levels and, of course, the unique details of the condition you’re treating surgically.

Surgical Foot and Ankle Care in Powder Springs, GA

As a foot and ankle surgeon in Georgia, Dr.  Cowans top priority is to provide effective treatment that creates the least amount of pain and disruption possible. At the same time, he knows that every patient is unique. So, when you come in for a surgical consultation, there are many factors we’ll consider before recommending your ideal surgical approach.

First, we’ll consider your overall health levels and ability to tolerate surgery. Next, we’ll examine the complexity of your condition, to see if MIS is even an option. Finally, we’ll consider your insurance coverage in order to make sure your surgery is as affordable as it can be.

Ready to find relief from foot, heel or ankle pain? Do you know that you need surgery, but aren’t sure what approach will be best for your needs? Reach out to our office to schedule a surgical consult. When you come in, we’ll make an informed decision together, helping you choose between minimally invasive surgery and open surgery for optimal outcomes.