Bunion Surgery

This surgery involves removing a bony growth at the base of the big toe.




This surgery involves removing a bony growth at the base of the big toe.



A bunion is a bony growth at the base of the big toe. It is also known as a hallux valgus.

  • Bunions can develop when the big toe is pushed into the toe beside it.
  • This causes the joint of the big toe to get larger and stick out the side of the foot.
  • A bunion may also develop at the base of the little toe. This is referred to as a bunionette or a tailor's bunion.

A bunionectomy is the removal of excessive bony tissue at the base of the big toe.

  • After the bony tissue is removed, the surgeon can straighten the toe.
  • Wire, pins or screws may be used to keep the toe straight.

Bunions are very common, especially in women. Some other factors that increase the risk of bunions include:

  • The shape of person's foot (genetic predisposition)
  • Flat feet or low arches
  • Bone or joint diseases, such as arthritis
  • Injuries
  • Wearing shoes that are too small or squeeze the toes together
  • Wearing high-heels
  • Having an occupation that puts stress on the feet, such as dancing and athletics

Most people with bunions have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. However, bunions can result in:

  • Pain, swelling and redness in the area of the bunion.
  • Constant rubbing of shoes on the bunion. This can thicken the skin over the joint.
  • The affected toe pointing toward the other toes instead of straight ahead.

Some ways to prevent complications associated with a bunion include:

  • Using shoe padding or shields
  • Wearing wide-width shoes
  • Over-the-counter pain medication
  • Certain lifestyle change

Contact your primary healthcare provider if you think you have a bunion. He or she may refer you to a foot doctor (podiatrist) or a foot and ankle surgeon. A bunionectomy may be recommended if nonsurgical measures for a painful bunion are not effective. A bunionectomy can:

  • Relieve foot pain
  • Correct a toe deformity
  • Improve toe function
  • Enable normal walking and related activities

Prior to surgery, tell your healthcare provider about any medications you are taking (including over-the-counter medications and supplements). Ask about specific instructions you should follow before surgery and get clear instructions on what you need to do. These may include:

  • Medications you should not take before the surgery, such as blood thinners
  • Regular medications you should continue to take on the day of your surgery
  • How many hours you should stop eating and drinking before the surgery

If you are a smoker, you should quit smoking. It can interfere with your recovery.

A bunionectomy can often be done by injecting a medication that makes your foot numb. This is called an ankle block. In certain cases, other types of anesthesia may be used.

  • General anesthesia is when you are put into a deep sleep and are unable to see, hear or feel anything
  • Spinal anesthesia is when a medication is injected into your back. This results in you being unable to feel anything from the waist down.

After surgery, expect some pain and tenderness at the site. Call your healthcare provider if you develop:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding
  • More pain than anticipated
  • Increased redness or swelling
  • Discharge from the wound
  • Fever, warmth or red streaks around the incision

Your healthcare provider may limit your activity for a few weeks. You may also need to wear a special support shoe while your foot is healing. In some cases, a cast may be applied to hold your foot in position.

  • How long you need to keep weight off your foot may depend on the type of bunionectomy you had.
  • Healing of a bunionectomy typically takes six to twelve weeks
  • You may need to stop wearing certain types of shoes, such as high heels.

If your healthcare provider recommends a bunionectomy, ask the following questions.

  • What treatment options do you recommend? What are the advantages and risks to each treatment?
  • Why do you think I need a bunionectomy? What do you expect will happen if I do not have a bunionectomy?
  • Are there any alternatives to surgery that can relieve my symptoms?
  • Will I need surgery for the other foot?
  • How can I prevent future bunions?
  • What are the possible complications? How will I feel after the surgery? How will I have to modify my activity?
  • After surgery, what symptoms should I be concerned about? What precautions do I need to take?

Prior to discharge, make sure you understand all home care instructions. This includes symptoms to report before your next appointment, medications and their side effects and follow-up plans. Do not forget to arrange for transportation to and from the facility and for help at home while you recover.

Source UHC.com

Also known as:

Hallux Valgus Correction
Foot Surgery
Bunionectomy
Bunion Surgery


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