Bunion Surgery: How to Prepare and What to Expect
If you’ve been reading our recent blogs, you’ll know that when it comes to surgery, we save it “only as a last resort.” Although bunion surgery is very safe and highly effective in the vast majority of cases, it’s still a big decision. And it comes with some obvious sources of frustration—having to manage your aftercare, take time off from work, activity limitations during recovery, etc.
So, like we said. If conservative care for your bunion can allow you to live a full lifestyle without pain, we’ll definitely support that approach.
But unfortunately, life isn’t always that easy. And when no other options are left, there’s no way around it. It’s time for surgery.
So what does that look like?
To put your mind more at ease, we’ll break it down for you.
Prepare Your Mind
We want you to be as informed, confident, and comfortable as possible. While we may not be able to soothe every anxiety, we do believe strongly in the value of patient education. The better you understand your condition and chosen procedure, the better position you’ll be to make wise decisions about your care and rehab!
Don’t be afraid to ask us questions. Ask away! Give us a call from home if you think of something later. There are no dumb questions, and we don’t mind repeating ourselves if you didn’t quite get it the first time.
Prepare Your Home
Remember that, after bunion surgery, your mobility will be affected. You might not be able to navigate obstacles like stairs quite so easily. You might have a harder time using the facilities, getting around your home, running errands, doing chores, etc.
However, you can make life a lot easier on yourself—and even reduce the risk of a setback during recovery—if you take the time to prepare your home beforehand.
- Stock up on food, toilet paper, prescriptions, and other consumables so you don’t have to make trips to the store.
- Place a living area on the main floor if you need to, so you don’t have to go upstairs to sleep, dress yourself, etc.
- Make sure all everyday items are in easy-to-reach locations. You may have to shuffle the dishes around in the cabinets, or lay out a few weeks’ worth of clothes in a basket or on a portable rack.
- Clean up clutter, removing low-lying cords and obstacles, or even make extra space between furniture items so that you can navigate easily throughout your home.
- Pre-cook some meals so that you can easily feed yourself without too much struggle in the kitchen.
- Install any grab bars or shower chairs you might need to help you get in, around, and out of the bathroom without much fuss.
What Will the Procedure Be Like?
Unfortunately, we can’t give you too many specifics on the procedure itself, since not all bunion surgeries are the same. The exact approach will depend on what’s causing your bunion, and how severe the problem is. For example:
- Transferring and/or reinforcing ligaments and tendons
- Removing the bony enlargement
- Cutting and realigning bones (osteotomy)
- Reshaping the joint surfaces (resection arthroplasty)
- Fusing the big toe joint (arthrodesis of the phalange and metatarsal)
- Fusing the metatarsal to the midfoot bone (Lapidus)
- Total replacement of the joint with an artificial implant
Some of these procedures are more invasive than others. Some might require the use of fixation (wires, screws, plates, etc.) while others may not.
That all being said, almost all our bunion surgeries are performed outpatient (that is, at our office). A local anesthetic will be used, although general anesthesia can be requested if you wish.
You’ll need to arrange transportation to and from our office, since you won’t be able to drive after you come out of surgery. We also strongly recommend you fill all your prescriptions before you arrive so you don’t have to squeeze in a trip to the pharmacy afterward!
What About Aftercare?
The exact length of your recovery period, and the timetable for when you can return to certain activities, will vary depend on various factors. To name just four big ones: the surgical procedure chosen, your age, your overall health, and how closely you follow your aftercare instructions.
Generally, stitches come out anywhere from one week to 3 weeks after the procedure. During this time, you’ll have to keep the surgical site dry, which means covering it during shower time. Any pins or other hardware scheduled to be removed generally stay in a little bit longer than that—up to 6 weeks in some cases.
Splints, braces, walking boots, or casts may be required to protect and stabilize the surgical site during the healing processes. Eventually, you will be able to wear normal shoes again, but usually not at first.
The most minor bunion surgeries may allow partial weight bearing almost immediately. By contrast, the most serious ones may forbid putting any weight at all on the foot for 6 to 8 weeks.
It goes without saying that our office will provide you with all the instructions you’ll need to manage your aftercare, including realistic timetables for recovery, and advice for stretching and rehabilitation. You can also call us at any time if you have questions or concerns.
It is extremely important to follow those instructions—even if you don’t want to, or think they’re excessive. Your body needs time to heal. Doing too much, too soon can stall your recovery, or even lead to a setback.
Fortunately, following the instructions isn’t difficult, and if you do it well, the odds of a successful recovery—and full return to activity—are extremely high.
Ready to schedule your appointment yet? We look forward to serving you. Give us a call at one of our three convenient locations to get started:
- Rego Park: (718) 896-4433
- Plainview: (516) 822-9595
- Flushing: (718) 969-2266