SKANEATELES, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — An ACL tear can be career-ending for some athletes. Reconstruction surgery can come with a tough recovery and risks of arthritis or tearing the other ACL.

However, a surgeon in Skaneateles is performing a different type of ACL repair: the BEAR procedure. It stands for Bridge Enhanced ACL Restoration.

With its benefits, people from all over are traveling to see Dr. Marc Pietropaoli at Victory Sports Medicine & Orthopedics.

Tyler Nelson is one of his patients.

Born and raised in North Dakota, the 16-year-old found himself on a plane to Syracuse after tearing his ACL during a wrestling match.

His mom, Tawyna learned about the BEAR procedure online. That’s when she found Dr. Pietropaoli, one of a handful of surgeons doing the repair right now.

“The return to sport was about 70% for the ACL reconstructions and about 86% for the BEAR procedures.”

Dr. Marc Pietropaoli – Orthopedic Surgeon

That statistic is one of the reasons Nelson and his parents were more comfortable with the restoration surgery instead of the typical reconstruction.

It’s also a bit less invasive. Instead of a graft where they take a tendon from somewhere else, they sew an implant between the torn ligament.

“Now, those two ends of the torn ligament know what to do, grow back across there so it acts like a bridge,” said Pietropaoli.

“It’s allowing your body to re-heal itself like naturally.”

Tyler Nelson

Pietropaoli says, unlike reconstruction, the BEAR procedure will reduce Nelson’s risk of tearing his other ACL as well as lessen his risk of developing arthritis.

“The results are just as good. The return to play is just as good if not better,” he said.

The only thing that’s not any better is the recovery time.

Both procedures have a 9 to 12 month recovery time. Still, Nelson should be back on the mat for his last two seasons and that’s the goal.

The office has a six-week program for high school and college athletes to help them get stronger and reduce their risk of an ACL tear by 50 to 75 percent.

To learn more about the program or sign up call 315-685-7544.