Bunionectomy Procedure: How is Bunion Removal Surgery Done & What is the Recovery Period?

What is a Bunion?

A bunion is a bony protrusion, which develops at the base of the big toe and connects with the first metatarsal resulting in the big toe turning excessively towards the second toe. A bunion is considered a deformity of the foot involving both the soft tissue and bone.

What is Bunionectomy or Bunion Removal Surgery?

Bunionectomy is the name of the surgical procedure, which corrects the deformed part of the foot. Bunionectomy is also referred to as bunion removal surgery, hallux valgus correction or bunion surgery.

There are about more than 100 different types of Bunionectomy or Bunion Removal Procedures, which realign the big toe by removing the bunion. The type of surgery needed depends on the cause of the bunion and its size.

Is Bunionectomy or Bunion Removal Surgery Necessary?

Bunionectomy or bunion removal surgery becomes necessary if the symptoms of bunions are not relieved with conservative treatment.

If you suffer from the following, then you need Bunion Removal Surgery:

  • You have pain, which hinders your daily life and restricts your mobility.
  • There is pain and swelling in your big toe, which is not relieved with rest and medication.
  • You get acute pain in the foot upon walking only a few blocks.
  • You are unable to straighten or flex your big toe.

How to Prepare for Bunionectomy or Bunion Removal Surgery?

There are some medical tests done to assess the general health of the patient before he/she is scheduled for a Bunionectomy or Bunion Removal Surgery and these include:

  • X-ray of the lungs.
  • Electrocardiogram.
  • Blood and urine tests.
  • The patient may also need to stop taking certain medications like aspirin or other blood-thinners a few days before Bunionectomy or Bunion Removal Surgery.

Bunionectomy is usually an outpatient procedure and the patient can go home in a few hours after the surgery when the general anesthesia has worn off. Depending on the duration of the surgery, the doctor will decide on when the patient should start eating normal food after the surgery and before the surgery. It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions to prevent complications post Bunion Removal Surgery.

Bunionectomy Procedure

Bunionectomy Procedure: How is Bunion Removal Surgery Done?

Most often, a local anesthetic known as ankle block is given and a general anesthetic is not needed. Following the ankle block, the area below the ankle becomes numb; however, the patient will be awake during Bunionectomy or Bunion Removal Surgery.

Next, the surgeon will proceed to excise the bunion and start repairing the patient’s foot. Most common types of bunionectomy or bunion removal procedures consist of exostectomy, osteotomy and arthrodesis.

Osteotomy: The surgeon cuts into the joint of the big toe and realigns it to a normal position.

Exostectomy: The surgeon just removes the offending bunion from the toe joint and does not perform an alignment.

Arthrodesis: The surgeon replaces the damaged toe joint with metal plates or screws in order to correct the deformity.

The patient is usually discharged in a couple of hours after surgery.

Recovery Period Following Bunionectomy or Bunion Removal Surgery

After the bunion removal surgery, the patient’s foot is bandaged and the patient is taken to the recovery room. Patient’s vital signs, such as heart rate and blood pressure are monitored during the time which is taken for the anesthesia to wear off.

Recovery Time Post Bunionectomy: The average recovery time after a Bunionectomy is around six to eight weeks. Complete recovery from Bunion Removal Surgery may take about four to six months.

Avoid Weight Bearing Post Bunionectomy: The initial two weeks post Bunionectomy or Bunion Removal, the patient will need to wear a cast or surgical boot to protect his/her foot. Patient should also avoid getting the stitches wet. After the boot or cast is removed, the patient will have to wear a brace to support the foot during the healing and recovery process post bunionectomy or bunion removal. Patient will have to avoid weight bearing on the affected foot and will have to use crutches for support. As the time goes and healing progresses, the patient can start putting some weight on the operated foot with the help of crutches or walker for support. Patient needs to avoid putting weight on the affected foot as much as possible.

Ice Application Post Bunionectomy: Ice therapy can be used on the toe and foot to reduce inflammation and accelerate healing. About a week or two post bunion removal, patient can resume driving if needed.

Footwear Post Bunionectomy: During the recovery period post bunionectomy or bunion removal, the foot remains swollen for some time for a few months. Patient needs to wear shoes which have lot of room to accommodate the operated toe and alleviate the pain. The women who have undergone bunionectomy or bunion removal surgery need to avoid wearing high heels for a minimum of 6 months.

Physical Therapy Post Bunionectomy: Physical therapy will be started under the guidance of an expert to exercise and strengthen the foot and lower leg.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:December 30, 2017

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