Bunions are progressive bone deformities of the foot that often cause recurring or chronic inflammation, irritation, and eventually so much pain that surgical correction is required. The surgery to remove a bunion is called a bunionectomy. But as we know well at Cherrywood Foot Care, there are many types of bunionectomies, so each one must be designed to resolve a particular structural change caused by the foot deformity.
Most bunions surgeries today are performed on an outpatient basis at a surgical center or hospital. You should plant to set aside the entire day for the surgery, although you may only be at the facility for a half day.
Prior to the surgery, patients will need to make some preparatory arrangements. These include:
The night before the surgery, you will not be able to eat or drink anything after midnight. You should also wash your foot the night before and the morning of the procedure to help reduce surrounding bacteria and prevent infection after the surgery.
Bunion surgery is usually performed with a local anesthetic administered by an anesthesiologist. This may be combined with sedation medication to put you into “twilight” so that you are fully relaxed. After the surgery, patients are often given a long-acting anesthetic and pain medication, which is why someone else must drive the patient home.
The type of procedure you have will determine the degree to which you can put weight on the foot immediately after the surgery. Some patients, particularly those having base procedures, may have to use crutches; others may be sent home wearing a surgical shoe. The foot will be covered in a dressing, which you will need to keep dry for up to two weeks or until the sutures are removed.
During the first week after surgery, you will need to keep the foot elevated as much as possible. Ice packs also should be applied for the first three to four days to reduce swelling. Limited ambulation or walking is required over the first two weeks to promote healing. Most patients also are instructed on some basic exercises that need to be performed daily.
Sutures are generally removed about two weeks after the surgery in the doctor’s office. Once the sutures are gone, you can bathe and shower normally, but you will still need to wear a dressing over the wound to keep it clean and prevent infection.
By the third or fourth week after the surgery, the swelling generally subsides enough for the patient to begin wearing a wide athletic shoe. It is important to continue daily exercises. If recommended, physical therapy may be initiated at this time. Once the wound has completely closed, you can use lotions to soften the skin in the surgical area.
By week five after the surgery, you will be able to walk short distances and do mild fitness activities. Continue following your surgeons instructions for increasing exercise and activities until you are back to normal.