Bunion Surgery

Bunion Surgery

This is general information about bunion surgery and may not apply to a specific kind of bunion repair.

  • There are many different types of bunion surgery.
  • Bunion surgery needs to be specific to each person’s unique condition.

Bunion surgery generally involves an incision in the top or side of the big toe joint and the removal or realignment of soft tissue and bone to relieve pain and restore normal alignment to the joint.

  • A regional anesthetic that affects only the foot is commonly used (rather than a general anesthetic).
  • If the joint is severely deformed, it may be stabilized with tiny wires, stitches, or screws.
  • The procedure usually takes 1 hour or more, depending on what type of surgery is being done.
  • Bunion repairs are usually done on an outpatient basis

What to Expect After Bunion Surgery

The usual recovery period is 6 weeks to 6 months, depending on the amount of soft tissue and bone affected.

  • Stitches are removed after 7 to 21 days.
  • The foot needs to be kept covered while showering or bathing to keep the stitches dry.
  • Walking casts, splints, special shoes, or wooden shoes are sometimes used, depending on the procedure. Regular shoes can usually be worn in about 4 to 5 weeks, and most activities can be resumed in about 6 to 8 weeks.

Why It Is Done

Surgery may be considered if:

  • Nonsurgical treatment has not relieved pain.
  • The person has difficulty walking or doing normal daily activities
  • Also see making the decision about surgery for bunions.

How Well It Works

After surgery, the person’s ability to walk and do other activities should improve because there will be less pain.

The big toe joint will generally be less painful and, as a result, may move better. It will also look more normal after the incision has healed and the swelling has gone down.

If short, tight, or narrow footwear contributed to the bunion, the person should not expect to be able to go back to wearing that type of shoe following surgery.

Risks

Risks of surgery may include:

  • Recurrence of the bunion
  • The big toe may bend out or up
  • Decreased feeling or sensation, numbness or tingling, or burning in the toe
  • Damage to the tendons that pull the big toe up or down
  • The big toe may be shorter if bone is removed
  • Restricted movement or stiffness of the big toe joint (may be an expected outcome of some types of surgery)
  • Persistent pain
  • Infection
  • Degenerative joint disease (arthritis) or avascular necrosis (bone “dies” because blood supply is disrupted) after surgery

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