by EBSCO Medical Review Board


Cheilectomy is surgery to remove a bony lump on the top of the big toe joint.

Reasons for Procedure

This surgery is done to treat arthritis. It will ease pain and improve range of motion in the toe.

Possible Complications

Problems are rare, but all procedures have some risk. The doctor will go over some problems that could happen, such as:

  • Excess bleeding
  • Problems from anesthesia, such as wheezing or sore throat
  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Damage to nerves and tendons
  • Pain that does not improve with surgery

Things that may raise the risk of problems are:

  • Smoking
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or obesity

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

The surgical team may meet with you to talk about:

  • Anesthesia options
  • Any allergies you may have
  • Current medicines, herbs, and supplements that you take. Some may need to be stopped before surgery.
  • Fasting before surgery. You may need to avoid food or drink starting midnight the night before.

Arrange for a ride home from surgery.


The doctor may give:

Description of the Procedure

An incision will be made on the top of the big toe. Bony lumps are shaved or cut away. Damaged tissue or bone fragments will also be removed. The incision will be closed with stitches. A bandage will be applied.

How Long Will It Take?

About 30 minutes

Will It Hurt?

Pain and swelling are common in the first 2 weeks. Medicine and home care can help.

Post-procedure Care

At the Hospital

Right after the procedure, the staff may:

  • Put a padded stiff shoe on the foot
  • Raise the foot to ease swelling
  • Give pain medicine
  • Teach how to use support devices like crutches

You will be able to leave when you are able to move safely with crutches.

At Home

It will take about 2 weeks for the incision to heal and swelling to go down. Physical activity will be limited during this time. You may need help with daily activities. You may not be able to work for a few weeks.

Full healing takes about 4 months.

Call Your Doctor

Call the doctor if you are not getting better or you have:

  • Signs of infection, such as fever and chills
  • Redness, swelling, more pain, a lot of bleeding, or any discharge
  • Lower leg pain
  • Numbness, coldness, or tingling in the foot
  • Pain that you cannot control with medicine

If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.


Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians 

FootCareMD—American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society 


Canadian Podiatric Medical Association 

Health Canada 


Cheilectomy for big toe arthritis. London Sports Orthopaedics website. Available at: Accessed May 20, 2020.

First MTP Cheilectomy. FootCareMD—American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society website. Available at: Updated 2018. Accessed May 20, 2020.

Osteoarthritis of the ankle. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated April 30, 2018. Accessed May 20, 2020.

Revision Information