Heroes come in many forms. The ability to relieve pain and restore quality of life has elevated one local surgeon to “superhero status” for a Long Island family. Hip pain used to run in the Bieniek family. That is, until siblings Denise, Brian and Doreen turned to Dr. Paul Enker, who performs a less invasive hip replacement procedure with a smaller incision, a shorter hospital stay and a quicker recovery.
At age 52, teacher and librarian Denise Bieniek could barely make it through recess. Years of severe hip pain made it hard to do everyday activities like walking, driving and sleeping. A newspaper article about Enker’s direct anterior approach procedure captured her attention and she set up an appointment. “It was total luck why we had that paper,” Denise said.
Dr. Enker explained that the direct anterior approach is a method of hip replacement that, unlike more traditional approaches to hip replacement, does not require the surgeon to cut the important muscles around the hip joint that provide the most power for walking and contribute to hip stability. Dr. Enker pioneered the introduction of this procedure to Long Island and is one of the early adopters in the country of this technique as the gold standard for total hip replacement.
“It leaves a smaller surgical footprint than other procedures. There’s a small incision, greater accuracy in leg lengths and implant positioning and quicker recovery time,” Enker described as he compared it to traditional hip replacement.
A bonus for a patient’s comfort and function is that there are fewer postoperative restrictions compared to a traditional hip replacement such as a pillow between the legs, high toilet seats and limited sleeping positions.
Four years later, after having both hips replaced, Denise has not stopped touting her quick recovery and Dr. Enker’s quality of care.
“He was very compassionate, patient with my many questions and generous with his time,” Denise said. “Having surgery is the difference between night and day. I feel amazing. Don’t wait! Your life will be so much better with the anterior approach.”
Shortly after Denise’s second procedure, brother Brian Bieniek asked Dr. Enker to perform his surgery with the anterior approach.
Coincidentally, youngest sibling Doreen Bates, 48 of Medford, had also been battling hip pain due to a congenital condition called hip dysplasia. As a result of limited mobility, she had gained forty pounds and could barely walk from her car to the office elevator without needing a break.
“The pain was like sugar in a cavity. I’d hold my breath and tense up. That’s what happens when bone hits bone,” Bates said. “It’s insidious. You can compensate a little bit until there’s nothing more you can do.”
Just like her siblings, this once active gardener was ready for relief.
“You can do all the shots and in the end come to the same thing, the cartilage is wearing out and you’re only hiding it from yourself that way,” Bates said. “I wanted my life back. I wanted to garden for more than 30 minutes and play softball at the family picnic.”
Bates experienced the same quick recovery as her brother and sister, and was back to work within a few weeks after surgery. “He’s my superhero. Nobody else could have done my surgery,” Bates said.