Recovering From Bunion Surgery: What to Expect

If you've been living with bunions, you're probably excited about the prospect of the pain relief and footwear freedom that bunion surgery brings. Recovery from bunion surgery typically takes three to six months. 

At Concord Podiatry, board-certified podiatrist, David E. Biss provides comprehensive bunion services, including assessment, diagnosis, and advanced surgical and nonsurgical treatment options to relieve pain and restore foot function. 

To get the best results from bunion surgery, it helps to understand what to expect in the days, weeks, and months that follow. Here, we present a recovery guide and tips to ensure your foot heals properly so you don't have recurring bunions.

What happens to your foot during bunion surgery?

A bunion is a bony bump that develops after years of pressure on the foot, most often on the side with your big toe. Bunion surgery removes or realigns bone and soft tissue in your toe joint. 

Dr. Biss usually makes an incision in the top or side of the toe joint to gain access before working to remove bone lumps, realign bones, or fuse joints together. Depending on the approach, Dr. Biss may use screws or plates to keep bones in place.

Recovering from bunion surgery

The most important aspects of bunion surgery recovery during the first few weeks are keeping your foot elevated, ensuring the wound and dressing stay dry, and limiting use of your foot. You should expect to spend the majority of the first week after bunion surgery resting and not bearing any weight on the foot. 

These steps ensure a successful bunion surgery recovery:

Keep your foot elevated

After bunion surgery, you should keep your foot elevated as much as possible for at least two weeks. Prop up your foot so it’s above your groin to allow excess fluid to drain. This goes a long way in minimizing swelling and pain. If you leave your foot down for too long, it will throb, swell, and become more painful.

Make sure your wound and dressing remain dry

It’s critical that the dressings stay in place and are kept dry following bunion surgery until Dr. Biss removes your stitches. This allows for proper healing.

Washing should be done with caution because you must keep the wound and dressings completely dry. When showering, place a waterproof plastic bag over the dressing and tape it with waterproof tape.

Stitches and dressings are usually removed after two weeks, and it is safe to get your foot wet after that. 

Limit the use of your foot

Walking should be limited in the early stages of bunion surgery recovery because it causes swelling when your foot is down. When walking, use crutches, and always wear the special shoe you were given to protect your foot. Do not put any weight on the front of your foot.

You can expect to use crutches for as long as Dr. Biss recommends, which is usually two weeks. In some cases, you may need crutches for up to six weeks depending on the type of surgery. As you advance through the recovery process, you can gradually increase the amount of weight you put through your foot and the distance you walk.

Recovery exercises

Exercises are a critical component of bunion surgery recovery. Depending on the type of surgery you have, you may need to wait a few weeks.

Your physical therapist prescribes exercises to help improve the movement, flexibility, and strength of your foot and toes. It’s critical to stick to your exercise routine after bunion surgery, or you risk developing toe stiffness.

Four to six weeks after surgery

Most patients can switch from wearing a special boot to wearing comfortable shoes around a month following surgery. Because there may still be some swelling, it’s important to have enough room in your shoes to accommodate it. 

Around six weeks after bunion surgery, most patients can resume their normal activities along with some light exercise. Ask Dr. Biss about how soon you can intensify your workouts. 

Help for painful bunions

After bunions form and become a problem, the only way to remove them is through surgery. If nonsurgical treatments are no longer working or are becoming less effective and the pain is interfering with your daily activities, surgery may be your best option.

If you have a painful bunion, the Concord Podiatry team can help you move more comfortably. To get started, call our office in either Concord or Plymouth, New Hampshire, to schedule a consultation with Dr. Biss today. Another option is to text us at 351-777-6056.

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