Bunion Surgery

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Bunion Orthopaedic Surgery

What is a Bunion Surgery?

There are several different types of procedures performed for a bunion. Your orthopaedic consultant will decide the best procedure tailored to your specific bunion.

The bunion surgery is designed to correct the deviation of the big toe.In order to to achieve this correction, two skin incisions around the big toe will be made. A bone cut (osteotomy) is made in the big toe to realign it. The bone cut is then fixed with either one or two screws.The screw typically stays in forever, unless you are able to feel it, when it can be removed if uncomfortable.

Type of procedure

Bunion surgery is a day case procedure and same day discharge is usual.

Type of anaesthesia

The bunion surgery will be undertaken under a general anaesthetic supplemented with an injection around the ankle to numb the foot (nerve block). The effect of this block will last for a few hours after surgery.

How long will the bunion surgery take?

The bunion surgery normally takes 30 to 45 minutes.

Risks of surgery

Any orthopaedic surgery carries some inherent risks and it is the surgeons responsibility to fully inform you regarding the benefits and risks of this procedure. Mr Shariff will go through this in detail with you to help you make an informed decision.

This is a fairly routine procedure with risk of:


If this occurs it is usually a superficial infection around the wound site.It settles with a course of oral antibiotics. Deep infection is extremely rare. Overall risk is 1%.

Pins & needles or patch of numbness:

Small nerve branches which supply sensation to the skin may be bruised or cut when the skin incision is made. This may cause pins and needles or a patch of numbness around the scar. This feeling generally resolves within a few weeks to a couple of months. Overall risk is 5%.


This is particularly seen in severe bunion deformities. If recurrence occurs it is usually a mild cosmetic deformity. If this occurs further surgery can be discussed. Overall risk is 5%.


Rarely the big toe may be straightened and overcorrected such that it points inward towards the other foot. If this occurs, initially strapping the toe to correct it will be done and if this fails, further surgery may be discussed.

Clots – Deep vein thrombosis

Extremely rare in foot and ankle surgery (<5%). There is no evidence to suggest that prophylaxis is required after surgery.

Recovery from bunion surgery

What can I expect immediately after the surgery whilst in hospital?

When you wake up, it is normal to have numbness in the operated foot as the anaesthetic block will take a few hours to wear off. You will have a bulky dressing to your foot.A stiff sole shoe will be provided in which you can walk after surgery. The physiotherapists will make sure that you are safe on your feet before discharge. You will also be given painkillers to take home. It is normal to experience moderate pain after surgery and you can keep this to a minimum by taking regular painkillers.

Specific recovery protocol:

Day 1 – 7

Ensure that you keep your foot elevated on pillows to help reduce swelling.

Foot wrapped in bulky bandage and surgical stiff sole shoe

Allowed to walk in a stiff sole shoe.

Ice, elevate, take pain medication

Expect numbness in foot 12-24 hours then moderate pain

Bloody drainage through bandage expected.

Do not change bandage,

Do not remove surgical shoe except even at night.

Allowed to walk on the heel of the foot.

When are the post operative clinic visit schedule

2 weeks after surgery – wound check and advice regarding toe splint

6 weeks after surgery – X-rays and advice regarding exercise

3 months after surgery – final follow up clinical exam and discharge

When can I begin to walk?

You are allowed to walk in a stiff sole surgical shoe on the day of surgery. However you must ensure that you use this shoe at all times for the first 6 weeks after your operation as this provides the necessary support while your bone heals.

0 – 6 weeks – stiff sole surgical shoe

6 – 12 weeks – graduate to normal shoes.

How do I look after my bunion surgical wound site?

Your wound should be healed 2 weeks after surgery. If you notice any redness around the wound site, get in touch with your consultant as you may have a wound infection. Do not pick on any scabs and allow them to fall off. You will be taught some massage techniques to lighten your scar.

How do I shower or wash?

Do not get your wound wet until it heals completely. You can use a waterproof cover or plastic bag over your foot when you have a shower. Only expose your wound to water after it has healed completely.

When can I get back to driving?

It is the responsibility of the driver to ensure that he/she is in control of the vehicle at all times. As a general rule, you are ready to drive when you are able to perform an emergency braking manoeuver without pain. This usually is 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

When can I get back to work?

Returning to work is very much dependent on the specific type of job and individual. As a rule of thumb –

Office based sedentary work – 4 weeks

Manual labour – 8 weeks

When can I get back to sport?

It depends on the kind of exercise, but as a general rule of thumb you can get back to sports like golf 3 to 4 months after the bunion surgery. For high intensity sport, this may take upto 6 months.

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