What Should I Expect from a Bunion Operation?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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A bunion is a bony lump that protrudes outward from the base of the big toe on either foot. This can occur on one or both feet at once. An operation may be performed to remove the bunion, although this is generally only recommended for those who are experiencing pain or if the bunion is pushing the remaining toes of out alignment. There are a few things you can expect from a bunion operation, including some pain and up to a year of recovery time.

The bunion operation will usually consist of breaking the foot or cutting the bones, and then removing the bony protrusion and pushing the big toe back into position. In many bunion cases, the big toe is crooked and out of alignment, and the operation will remedy this situation. There are hundreds of ways in which the doctor can do this, but the most common type of operation involves cutting the bones in the foot or toes and reinserting them in the proper locations.


There are various results you may expect from a bunion operation because there are so many ways in which to perform the procedure. You may be given a local anesthetic, which will numb your feet so that you cannot feel the operation, but you will remain awake and alert throughout the procedure. For longer or more complicated operations you will likely be given general anesthesia, which means you will be asleep. Many times you will be able to go home the same day as your operation.

The time frame you should expect from a bunion operation will vary between 25 minutes to one hour in length. If you are able to go home directly after the procedure, you will likely have to wait an hour after the procedure to leave, sometimes longer if the anesthesia takes awhile to wear off. After surgery, you will likely be required to wear either a specialized shoe or plaster cast to keep weight off the foot. There is no real evidence supporting one option over another. You will also likely be required to use crutches, or a wheelchair if both feet were operated on at once.

The most important thing you should expect from bunion surgery is less pain in your feet and a more attractive appearance with a straighter big toe and no protruding bump. In some cases, it may take up to a year for full healing and a full straightening of the toe to occur. Sometimes when a severe bunion has been removed, pain may still be present after an operation, although it is often much less.

Bunion surgery does carry some risks, including infection and stress fractures in the bones involved. To prevent these risks, talk to your doctor and follow all instructions thoroughly. Even after surgery, your feet may not be perfect, so discuss what you should expect from a bunion operation before you undergo the procedure. This will allow your expectations to better match up with the likely results.


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