Bunion Surgery Recovery Tips

Bunion Surgery

A Bunion is a common foot deformity that manifests as a bony growth below the base of the big toe. A Bunion is progressive, meaning it will get worse over time; the Bunion ‘bump’ will enlarge and often causes footwear fitting issues, pain, swelling and can prevent day-to-day activities. We have previously written some detailed information about Bunions and how to recognise them.

Surgical correction of Bunions tend to be considered a last resort when more conservative treatment measures fail to resolve the symptoms. This is partly because, like most types of surgery, it requires a recovery period and patients are often concerned this will be disruptive. However, in recent years Bunion surgery techniques have improved, greatly reducing the impact and length of recovery from an operation.

Recovery for bunion surgery

The recovery will vary depending on the type of procedure that is advised, although they often share many characteristics and stages, including:

  • Physical therapy: this is an
    important part of the recovery process to make sure healing and the return to
    activity is optimal. Usually this will begin at around two weeks after surgery.
  • Post operative shoes: all
    patient will wear protective shoes and slowly transition back to normal
    footwear
  • Swelling: will reduce over time
    and be much improved from 6 weeks.

Below is some key information on these and other aspects of the recovery.

Bunion surgery recovery time

Recovery times following Bunion surgery can
vary, depending on a number of factors:

  • General health: older patients
    or have generalised health conditions, like diabetes, may need a longer period
    to fully heal
  • Type of procedure: the less
    invasive the procedure the faster and less impactful the recovery. For example,
    with Minimally Invasive Bunion Surgery it is possible to walk straight away,
    albeit with less activity and some reasonable supports during the appropriate
    stages. However, Minimally Invasive Procedures are not always appropriate.
  • Other surgeries: if operations
    for other deformities are conducted at the same time, this may impact the
    overall recovery period.

However, for the most common types of
operation and assuming normal levels of health, the recovery times broadly
follow the below pattern:

  • The first 2-4 days | You should
    rest as much as possible with your feet up over this period; restricting
    movement to using the bathroom. Generally all movement will make use of some
    kind of support, such as crutches.
  • 2 weeks after surgery |
    Bandages will likely no longer be needed. Many patients return to trainers and
    may start with physiotherapy at this point.
  • 2-6 weeks after surgery |
    Patients often return to work during this period. You can return to driving on
    the condition that you can perform an emergency stop. Virtually all normal
    activities are possible at this point.
  • 6-12 weeks after surgery |
    Sports and other shoe types can be returned to over this period.
  • 6 months after surgery | You
    will normally have a final review around this period. By his point you should
    have the full benefit of the surgery.

A particular recovery pathway may differ
from the above in some respects and your surgeon will always be able to advise what
to expect in a more specific case.

Recovery shoes

Normally patients will make use of a
postoperative shoe over the first two weeks postoperatively. These look like
slightly oversized sandals that redistribute pressure away from the surgery
site when moving, as well as protect the area from knocks.

Sometimes, if a swift return to work is
important, patients may make use of an aircast boot, which provides added protection
as well as control of swelling.

Bunion surgery recovery exercises

It is important to maintain strength after
a period of limited activity, as well as to relieve pain. The recovery will
involve both strengthening and stretching exercises.

Strength: these will be targeted exercises
to gradually improve strength of the muscles that support your foot and lower
limbs. This will help keep your joints stable, as well as relieve some foot and
ankle pains that are caused by weakness.

Stretching: Improving flexibility of your
lower limb muscles can help restore the range of motion of your foot &
ankle, as well as reduce muscle soreness.

A physiotherapist will aid and guide
patients through this process.

Bunion surgery – before and after

What to expect

Click here to see more Before and After Surgery Images

When to contact a doctor during recovery

Your surgeon will warn you of any signs to
watch out for and how to act should there be any concerns during a recovery. It
is important to seek specialist advice or revert to your surgeon if you notice
any of the following:

  • Excessive low limb swelling,
    which could indicate a DVT
  • Allergic reaction to anesthesia
  • Infection, indicated by pus,
    pain, increased temperature and swelling
  • Pain controls, such as
    medication, are not working

Get in touch

If you have any other questions or would
like to reserve an appointment, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team: