A bunion removal is a surgery to repair a deformity in the joint that connects the big toe to the foot. It is done by removing excess bone in the joint area and re-aligning the joint.
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A bunion is an inflammation and enlargement of the big toe joint and the tissue around it. In some cases, the deformity is so severe that the bottom of the big toe slants significantly toward the outside of the foot. Surgery to correct it is considered when:
If you are planning to have a bunion removal, your doctor will review a list of possible complications, which may include:
Factors that may increase the risk of complications include:
Your doctor will likely do the following:
Leading up to your procedure:
Depending on the complexity of the surgery, you may be given:
There are several types of bunion removal procedures. A cut will be made into the foot near the bunion. The excess growth of bone will be removed with a bone saw. Depending on the degree of deformity, the doctor may need to cut into the bone of the toe. The bones will then be realigned so that the toe no longer slants to the outside. Other revisions may be needed as well. Improving the angle of the toe and repairing these bones may require a metal pin, screw, or rod to hold the bones in place. The incisions will be closed with stitches. A bulky bandage will be placed over the area.
Anywhere from less than 30 minutes to over 2 hours
Anesthesia prevents pain during surgery. You will have pain after the surgery. Talk to your doctor about medication to help manage the pain.
You may be released the same day or need to stay in the hospital overnight.
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Recovery may also include:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection, such as:
When you return home, take these steps:
Bunion removal may result in better movement with less pain. It may take as long as 8 weeks after bunion surgery for your foot to be well healed.
Contact your doctor if your recovery is not progressing as expected or you develop complications such as:
In case of an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Podiatric Medical Association
OrthoInfo—American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Association
Canadian Podiatry Education Foundation
Bunion surgery. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00140. Updated February 2016. Accessed March 14, 2018.
Ferrari J, Higgins JP, et al. Interventions for treating hallux valgus (abductovalgus) and bunions. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. (1):CD000964, 2004.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James P. Cornell, MD Last Updated: 2/10/2014