Bunion removal is surgery to repair a deformity in the joint that connects the big toe to the foot. It removes excess bone in the joint and re-aligns the joint.
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Reasons for Procedure
This surgery is done on people who are not helped by other bunion treatment methods. It is also done when the bunion is causing pain and problems walking.
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
- Toe may be misaligned or too short
- The bunion may return
Things that may raise the risk of problems are:
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 and whether you need to stop taking them before surgery
- Fasting before surgery, such as avoiding food or drink after midnight the night before
- Arranging for a ride to and from surgery
- Tests that will need to be done before surgery, such as X-rays
The doctor may give:
- Local anesthesia—the area will be numbed
- General anesthesia—you will be asleep
Description of the Procedure
A cut will be made into the foot near the bunion. The excess bone will be removed. A cut may also be made into the bone of the toe to treat a severe bunion. The bones will be realigned so that the toe no longer slants to the outside. Other repairs may also be done. A metal pin, screw, or rod may be used to hold the bones in place. The incisions will be closed with stitches. A bandage will be placed over the area.
How Long Will It Take?
30 minutes to 2 hours
Will It Hurt?
Pain and swelling are common for two weeks after surgery. Medicine and home care can help.
Average Hospital Stay
You may be able to go home the same day. If you have problems, you may need to stay overnight.
After surgery, the staff may:
- Give you pain medicine
- Place a surgical shoe or cast on your foot
- Teach you how to use a cane or walker
During your stay, staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
- Washing their hands
- Wearing gloves or masks
- Keeping your incisions covered
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection, such as:
- Washing your hands often and reminding visitors and staff to do the same
- Reminding staff to wear gloves or masks
- Not letting others touch your incisions
It will take a few weeks for the incisions to heal. Full recovery can take up to 8 weeks. Physical activity will need to be limited at first. You will need to ask for help with daily activities and delay your return to work.
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, a lot of bleeding, or any leaking from the incision
- Pain that you cannot control with medicine
- Swelling or pain in the calf or leg
If you think you have an emergency, call for medical help right away.
American Podiatric Medical Association http://www.apma.org
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.aaos.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Association http://www.coa-aco.org
Canadian Podiatric Medical Association https://www.podiatrycanada.ca
Bunion surgery. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00140. Updated February 2016. Accessed July 29, 2020.
Easley ME, Trnka HJ. Current concepts review: hallux valgus part 1: pathomechanics, clinical assessment, and nonoperative management. Foot Ankle Int. 2007 May;28(5):654-9., commentary can be found in Foot Ankle Int 2008 Apr;29(4):464.
Hallux valgus and bunion. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hallux-valgus-and-bunion . Updated May 7, 2020. Accessed July 29, 2020.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
- Review Date: 03/2020
- Update Date: 03/10/2021