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Bunion Surgery

Many people don’t need a general anesthetic during bunion removal surgery. Instead, you’ll get a local anesthetic called an ankle block. An ankle block makes you numb below the ankle, but you’ll be awake for the surgery.

Once you’re completely numb, the surgeon will remove the bunion and make other repairs to your foot. Some of the most common types of bunion removal procedures are osteotomy, exostectomy, and arthrodesis. 

  • In an osteotomy, your surgeon will cut your big toe joint and realign it to a normal position.

  • In an exostectomy, your surgeon will remove your bunion from the joint without performing an alignment.

  • In an arthrodesis, your surgeon will replace the damaged joint with screws or metal plates to correct the deformity. 

Your surgeon will bandage your foot after the surgery and take you to the recovery room. Your blood pressure and heart rate will be monitored as you wait for the anesthesia to wear off. 

Generally, you can go home after a couple of hours in recovery.

Recovering from bunion surgery

While recovery after bunion surgery takes about six to eight weeks, full recovery from bunion removal surgery can take an average of four to six months. 

For the first two weeks following your surgery, you’ll wear a surgical boot or cast to protect your foot. You should avoid getting your stitches wet. 

After removing the cast or boot, you’ll wear a brace to support your foot while you heal. You won’t be able to bear weight on your foot at first, and you’ll need crutches for assistance. Gradually, you can start putting some weight on your foot, using a walker or crutches for support. 

Keep off your feet as much as you can. Ice your foot and toe to speed healing and reduce inflammation. After a week or two, you can drive if necessary. 

Expect your foot to remain swollen to some degree for several months after bunion removal. Wear shoes with ample room to minimize your pain. Women should try to avoid wearing high heels for at least six months after bunion removal. 

Your doctor may send you to physical therapy, where you’ll learn exercises that can strengthen your foot and lower leg. 

Long-term outlook

Bunion removal surgery is highly successful. Talk to your doctor about measures you can take to ensure your foot heals correctly. Taking care of your feet by avoiding shoes with narrow toe boxes after surgery will help prevent future bunions.