What Can I Expect with Bunion Surgery?
This is not a cosmetic procedure. It is performed with the goals of improving function and reducing pain in the foot. That being said, patients are often very satisfied with how their foot looks after the procedure. The foot is in a better position afterward and scars are no different than surgeries elsewhere in the body.
Bunions are a deformity where the great toe joint is out of alignment and requires realignment. This is a process that requires time off of the foot, walking in an immobilization boot, physical therapy, and multiple follow up visits to the podiatrist.
Bone takes approximately 6-8 weeks to heal in a normal healthy person. Bunion surgery involves cutting of bone and fixation into better alignment with hardware that may remain in the body indefinitely. Most types of hardware these days are low profile and will not be felt under the skin nor set off the alarms at the airport security.
After surgery you will most likely need to stay off the foot for at least 2-4 weeks, depending on the type of procedure. After that, it is at the surgeon’s discretion to when you may begin putting weight on the foot in an immobilization boot. Physical therapy is begun as soon as it is safe to move the toe joint in order to prevent freezing of the joint, muscle atrophy, and to decrease swelling. In general the time from beginning of surgery to walking in a regular shoe again is around 3 months to 1 year. This is because not everyone takes the average time to heal.
Things to take note of:
- Only one foot is done at a time so you are not completely incapacitated for an elective procedure.
- Be prepared to take plenty of time off from work in case you are not allowed to wear the boot at work.
- If surgery will be performed on your right foot you will not be able to drive until you can put weight on the foot without a boot. Uber is kinda fun.
- This is elective outpatient surgery that is often done in a morning or afternoon so be prepared to spend half the day at the hospital or surgery center.
Much of this article is meant to inform you of what to expect, not to scare you away. Bunion surgery is highly successful with the majority of patients leaving satisfied with their results.