Foot bunion removal surgery

Foot bunion removal surgery is a relatively straightforward treatment to correct painful bunion deformities and straighten the big toe.

What are foot bunions?

A bunion, also known as Hallux Valgus, is when the big toe points outwards towards the other toes. This can be painful over the bump on the inside of the foot, and also over the second toe that can become squashed. The aim of surgical bunion treatment is to correct this deformity and straighten the big toe.

What does foot bunion removal surgery involve?

Foot bunion removal surgery is usually carried out under general anaesthetic, and is a day-case procedure. An incision is made on the side of the big toe, with a small incision over the top of the foot. The metatarsal bone, which is the long bone in the foot at the base of the big toe, is cut and moved across to correct the bunion deformity and this is fixed with two small screws. Any extra bone is then removed. Following bunion removal surgery, you will be placed in a special bandage.

Foot bunion removal surgery recovery time

For the first few weeks following bunion surgery you will need to elevate your foot as much as possible to reduce swelling. This will both make the foot more comfortable and help the wounds to heal. You must walk on your heel for six weeks following bunion removal surgery.

The stitches will be removed after two weeks and your foot will be placed in a soft splint that helps to hold the big toe straight whilst it heals. You will wear this splint for another four weeks after which, if x-rays are satisfactory, you will be able to walk normally in loose fitting shoes. The swelling can take several months to completely settle.

What risks should I know about?

Foot bunion removal surgery is commonly performed and generally safe procedure but there are some potential complications you should be aware of. These affect a very small percentage of patients.

  • Infection can occur although our theatres have ultra-clean air operating conditions keeping infection rates to the minimum.
  • Blood clots are possible and are more common in patients with some pre-existing medical conditions. However, again they affect a very small percentage of patients and have well established treatments including aspirin.
  • Very rarely, damage to the small nerves around the operation site leading to numbness or pain in the big toe - this usually settles on its own. 
  • The big toe joint remains stiff and painful. This may happen in individual cases when there is significant arthritis in the big toe joint.

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