Your Bunion Surgery Recovery Timeline

July 1, 2022 • • foot carefoot conditions
Your Bunion Surgery Recovery Timeline

Are you considering bunion surgery? Here’s what to expect.

Bunions are one of the most common foot problems in the U.S., with an estimated one in three Americans suffering from the painful bony outgrowths on the side of the big toe. The frequent cause stems from ill-fitting shoes, but the condition is sometimes linked to arthritis as well as congenital foot abnormalities.

If you suffer from bunions, you’ve felt the pain with every step. Perhaps you’ve tried changing your shoes or applying over-the-counter pads or foot inserts to relieve the pain, swelling, and pressure. If those methods failed to work, you might now be considering bunion surgery.

Your bunion surgery timeline

Bunion surgery removes the bony knob and realigns the big toe so it doesn’t bump up against the other toes. The most common bunion surgery is an osteotomy. After small incisions are made in the bones, the surgeon places pins or screws in the joint to position it in proper alignment.

Prior to surgery, your doctor will order blood and heart tests in addition to X-rays to determine your overall health. You’ll need to stop taking blood thinners a few days before the procedure, and you’ll have to fast during the hours leading up to the surgery. 

Because bunionectomy is an outpatient procedure, the doctor will provide light anesthesia and a local agent to numb the big toe area. Depending on the severity of the bunion, the procedure can take anywhere from 45 minutes to three hours.

Your recovery timeline

Once your doctor releases you after the surgery, you can go home. Because of the anesthesia and the fact you can’t drive with a bandaged foot, you must have someone take you home.

Everyone heals differently. Some may recover quicker, while others take a bit longer. Generally, it takes about 12 weeks for the bone to heal fully. Here’s what you can expect after the surgery:

Two Weeks After Surgery. You’ll wear a special boot to keep the foot immobile. Your healing process depends on how long you wear the boot, but it likely will be for several weeks. Keep the bandages and stitches dry and don’t soak your foot until your doctor gives you permission. Your doctor will remove the stitches in about two weeks and extract any removable pins in four to six weeks. 

Two to Six Weeks After Surgery. During this period, it’s extremely important not to bear any weight on the foot. After the boot comes off, you’ll have a brace fitted to support your foot. You can use crutches or a walker to help you move a round without putting pressure on your foot. 

Six Weeks After Surgery. You can slowly return to weight-bearing activities, including driving.

Eight Weeks After Surgery. You can start wearing comfortable footwear, such as tennis shoes.

Three to Four Months Surgery. At this time, your recovery is complete and you can return to your normal activities including any sports.

You can take pain medication and elevate your foot when possible for pain relief. Applying ice to the toe also helps relieve discomfort and swelling. When you can return to work depends on your job. If you stand for long hours, you may need to take a longer break as your foot heals.

Complications are extremely rare, but if you notice any blood on the bandages, loose stitches, or pus draining from the surgical site, contact your doctor immediately, as that could signal an infection.

Once you’ve healed, you can move forward pain-free. But it may be a good idea to change your footwear to more comfortable shoes to prevent another bunion.

Get off on the right foot

The physicians at Alamitos-Seal Beach Podiatry Group have treated many types of foot problems, including bunions. We can guide you through the surgery and healing process to ensure you experience a complete recovery. Contact us today for a consultation.

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