Bunion Surgery: What to Expect
There are several different surgical techniques for the treatment of bunions, mostly named after the surgeons who developed them, such as McBride, Chevron, and Keller. How much tissue is removed and whether or not the bone is repositioned depends on the degree and angle of deformity caused by the bunion as well as your age and physical condition.
Bunion surgery is usually performed on an outpatient basis. You'll arrive one to two hours in advance of your surgery. The most common anesthesia used is an ankle block that will numb your foot. You'll be sedated to keep you relaxed during surgery.
The surgeon will make an incision over the swollen area at the first joint of the big toe and the enlarged lump will be removed. The surgeon may need to realign the bones of the big toe — or the bone itself may need to be cut. If the joint surfaces have been damaged, the surgeon may hold the bones together with screws, wires, or metal plates. In severe cases, the entire joint may need to be removed and a joint replacement inserted. In some mild cases, it may be sufficient to repair the tendons and ligaments that are pulling the big toe out of alignment.
When finished, the surgeon will close the incision with sutures and may apply steri-strips as an added reinforcement. A compression dressing will be wrapped around the surgical wound. This helps to keep the foot in alignment as well as help reduce postoperative swelling.
You'll be taken to the post-operative area for two to three hours to give time for the anesthesia and sedation to wear off.
- Depending on your surgery, you may wear a special surgical shoe rather than using crutches or wearing a cast.
- You will need someone to drive you home.
- In the days following your surgery, you'll be in your surgical shoe and you'll be able to walk short distances inside your home.
- You'll need to apply ice packs about four times a day for the first few days. Some patients prefer to use bags of frozen peas or ice cubes in a plastic bag.
- Place your foot on a chair or table and keep it elevated as much as possible to keep swelling to a minimum.
- Because your foot is likely to have moderate swelling, you may start wearing athletic shoes that are wider or a half-size larger than usual.
- Some patients apply aloe vera or Vitamin E around, but not on, the healing wound to keep the skin soft.