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What's It Like: To get a bunion removed?

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: August 26, 2012

Does it hurt?

It will depend on your pain tolerance. During the surgery, you shouldn't feel pain.

Afterward, there could be some discomfort for the first week. Your doctor will usually recommend elevating your foot to relieve pressure.

You will likely be prescribed pain medication. It's up to you on whether you would like to take it.

What are the risk factors?

With any surgery, there's risk of infection and bleeding. The good thing about bunions is there's not a major artery in that area.

After the surgery, there's a risk of dislodging the correction if you fall before your foot has healed from the surgery.

There is some risk that the bunion will come back, but it likely will take a long time for that to occur. There is also a risk that the surgery won't relieve the pain you felt from the bunion. It is important to talk with your doctor or podiatrist about risks and any other questions you might have.

What's the recovery time?

Your recovery time will depend on how severe your bunion was and what type of surgery you had. Often, you're walking the same day you had surgery. People usually aren't on crutches, unless the bunion is severe.

If you have screws or pins inserted in your foot, the recovery time is about six weeks. You likely will be in some kind of prescribed boot or shoe for that time period. The sutures still will come out at two weeks.

There likely will be inflammation and some discomfort the first three to five days. The swelling should go down after the first week. Your doctor likely will release you to regular activities between two weeks and six weeks.

Although some of the deformity will be gone, the surgery might not give you a perfect-looking foot. Full recovery can take three to five months.

What's the follow-up?

Your doctor will want to check in with you a week or so after surgery to ensure everything is healing properly. If things look good, your doctor might put a lighter bandage on your foot. Sometime in the next week to month, your doctor will remove your sutures.

Source: Dr. Scott Morris, Oklahoma Foot and Ankle Associates; The Mayo Clinic; The National Institutes of Health.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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