What is bunion surgery?
Bunion surgery is done to reduce
the pain and correct the deformity caused by a bunion. A bunion (hallux valgus) is a
deformity of the bone or tissue around the joint at the base of the big toe or at the
base of the little toe. The one at the small toe is called a "bunionette" or "tailor's
bunion." Bunions often form when the joint is stressed over a prolonged period. Most
bunions form in women, primarily because women may be more likely to wear tight,
pointed, and confining shoes. Bunions may be inherited as a family trait. Bunions may
also result from arthritis. This often affects the big toe joint.
Before surgery is an option, your
healthcare provider may first advise wearing comfortable, well-fitting footwear. This
means shoes that conform to the shape of your foot and don't put pressure on any areas.
He or she may also suggest using splints and orthotics. These are special shoe inserts
shaped to your feet. These can reposition the big toe and provide padding. For bunions
caused by arthritis, medicines may help reduce pain and swelling.
If these treatments don’t help,
your healthcare provider may advise surgery. This often solves the problem. The goal of
surgery is to relieve pain and correct as much deformity as possible. The surgery is not
cosmetic. It is not meant to improve the appearance of the foot.
The type of surgery done depends on
factors such as:
Other factors for the choice of a procedure include:
For this type of surgery, the surgeon may remove the enlarged portion of
bone. He or she will realign the muscles, tendons, and ligaments around the
bunion. The surgeon may cut the bone and shift it to its proper
position. This depends on the severity and location of the deformity. The tendons and
ligaments around the area may also need to be repositioned.
bunion. Surgery may be done to remove the enlarged portion of the
bone, cut and realign the bone, and correct the position of the tendons and
bunion or big toe joint.With arthritis, the joint may be damaged beyond repair. In this case, it may
need to be fused. This lets the bones heal together. It stops movement and pain. In
some cases, joint replacement implants may be used to rebuild the big toe joint.
Why might I need bunion surgery?
You may need bunion surgery if you
have any of the below:
Severe foot pain even when walking or wearing flat, comfortable
Chronic big toe inflammation and swelling not helped with rest
Bending of the big toe toward the small toe
Inability to bend and straighten the big toe
Your healthcare provider may have
other reasons to advise bunion surgery.
What are the risks of bunion surgery?
All surgery has risks. Risks of
this kind of surgery include:
Other complications may include:
There may be other risks. This
depends on your health condition. Discuss any concerns with your healthcare provider
before the procedure.
How do I get ready for bunion surgery?
Your healthcare provider will explain
the procedure to you. Ask any questions that you have about the procedure.
You will be asked to sign a consent
form. This gives your permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask
questions if something is not clear.
Your healthcare provider will ask
about your medical history. He or she will give you a complete physical exam. This is
to make sure that you are in good health before having the procedure. You may have
blood tests or other tests.
Tell your healthcare provider if you
are sensitive to or are allergic to any medicines. This includes latex, tape, and
anesthetic agents (local and general).
Tell your healthcare provider about
all medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements that you are taking. This includes
prescribed and over-the-counter medicines.
Tell your healthcare provider if you
have a history of bleeding disorders. Tell him or her if you are taking any
anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medicines, aspirin, or other medicines that affect
blood clotting. You may need to stop these medicines before the procedure.
If you are pregnant or think you could
be, tell your healthcare provider.
You may be asked to not eat for 8
hours before the procedure.
You may get a sedative before the
procedure. This is to help you relax. Because it may make you drowsy, you will need
to plan for someone to drive you home.
Based on your medical condition, your healthcare provider may request other specific preparation.
What happens during bunion surgery?
Bunion surgery may be done on an
outpatient basis. In rare cases, you may stay overnight in a hospital. Procedures may
vary depending on your condition and your healthcare provider’s practices.
Most bunion surgery is done under
ankle block anesthesia. This means your foot is numb, but you are awake. In some cases,
general or spinal anesthesia is used.
Bunion surgery often follows this
You will be asked to remove clothing
and will be given a medical gown to wear.
An IV (intravenous) line may be
started in your arm or hand.
The skin over the bunion will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution.
If a local anesthetic is used, you
will feel a needle stick when the anesthetic is injected. This may cause a brief
stinging feeling. If general anesthesia is used, you will be put to sleep using IV
The surgeon will cut, realign, and
possibly remove portions of bone, ligaments, and tendons of the affected foot based
upon the severity of the bunion.
The surgeon will close the opening
with stitches and apply a sterile bandage or dressing.
What happens after bunion surgery?
After your surgery, you will be
taken to the recovery room. Your recovery process will vary depending on the type of
anesthesia you had. The blood flow and feeling in the foot will be monitored. Once your
blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable and you are alert, you will be taken to
a hospital room or discharged to your home.
Your healthcare provider will give you specific instructions for caring for your foot at home during the first few weeks after surgery. You may be discharged from the hospital wearing a special surgical shoe or cast to protect your foot.
Once you are at home, you will need
to rest. Keep your foot elevated on 1 or 2 pillows. This is to help reduce pain and
swelling. Your healthcare provider may also advise that you apply ice and limit walking.
You may be advised to use a cane or walker following surgery.
It's important to keep the dressing
clean and dry. Cover the dressing with a plastic bag or plastic wrap and tape it with
plastic tape when showering. Or, take a sponge bath. The stitches will be removed during
a follow-up visit. This is generally scheduled for 2 weeks after surgery.
Take a pain reliever for soreness
as advised by your healthcare provider. Aspirin or certain other pain medicines may
increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only approved medicines. Your
healthcare provider may also prescribe antibiotics. This is to help prevent infection
after your surgery.
Tell your healthcare provider if
you have any of these:
Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or
chills as directed by your healthcare provider
Redness, swelling, bleeding, or other
fluid leaking from the incision site
Pain around the incision site that
Swelling in lower leg of the affected foot
Your healthcare provider will
advise you about safe activities after surgery. Your foot may need ongoing support from
dressings or a brace for 6 to 8 weeks after surgery. You may need to not drive for a
week or more after surgery.
Exercises or physical therapy may
be advised to help your foot recover its strength and range of motion after surgery.
Don't wear high heels for at least 6 months after surgery.
Your healthcare provider may give
you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
The name of the test or procedure
The reason you are having the test or procedure
What results to expect and what they mean
The risks and benefits of the test or procedure
What the possible side effects or complications are
When and where you are to have the test or procedure
Who will do the test or procedure and what that person’s qualifications are
What would happen if you did not have the test or procedure
Any alternative tests or procedures to think about
When and how will you get the results
Who to call after the test or procedure if you have questions or problems
How much will you have to pay for the test or procedure
Online Medical Reviewer:
Kenny Turley PA-C
Online Medical Reviewer:
L Renee Watson MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer:
Thomas N Joseph MD
Date Last Reviewed:
© 2000-2018 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.