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Bunion removal

Definition

Bunion removal is surgery to treat deformed bones of the big toe and foot. For more information on this type of deformity, see: Bunion

Alternative Names

Bunionectomy; Hallux valgus correction

Description

You will be awake during the procedure. You willl given anesthesia (numbing medicine) so that you will not feel pain and medicines to help you relax.

The surgeon makes a surgical cut to expose the toe joint and bones. The surgeon repairs the deformed joint and bones, using pins, screws, plates, or a cast to keep the bones in place.

The surgeon may repair the bunion by:

  • Making certain tendons or ligaments shorter or longer
  • Arthrodesis, which involves taking out the damaged part of the joints and then using screws, wires, or a plate to hold the joint together
  • Shaving off the bump on the toe joint
  • Removing the damaged part of the joint
  • Cutting parts of the bones on each side of the toe joint, then putting them in their proper position. This is called an osteotomy.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Bunion removal surgery may be recommended when non-surgical treatments do not work. An example of a non-surgical treatment is switching to shoes with a wide toe box to make room for the bump caused by the bunion.

Surgery is recommended to correct the deformity and restore normal, pain-free use of the foot.

Risks

Risks for any anesthesia are:

Risks for any type of surgery are:

Risks for bunion surgery are:

  • Numbness in the big toe
  • Problems with the incision not healing well
  • Return of the deformity
  • Nerve damage

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, even drugs, supplements, or herbs you bought without a prescription.

During the 2 weeks before your surgery:

  • You may be asked to stop taking drugs that make it harder for your blood to clot. These include aspirin, ibuprofen, (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve), and other drugs.
  • Ask your doctor which drugs you should still take on the day of your surgery.
  • If you have diabetes, heart disease, or other medical conditions, your surgeon will ask you to see your doctor who treats you for these conditions.
  • Tell your doctor if you have been drinking a lot of alcohol, more than 1 or 2 drinks a day.
  • If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor or nurse for help. Smoking can slow down wound and bone healing.
  • Always let your doctor know about any cold, flu, fever, herpes breakout, or other illness you may have before your surgery.
  • You may want to visit a physical therapist to learn some exercises to do before surgery. The physical therapist can also teach you how to correctly use crutches.

On the day of your surgery:

  • You will usually be asked not to drink or eat anything for 6 to 12 hours before the procedure.
  • Take your drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After the Procedure

Most people go home the same day they have bunion removal surgery.

You should keep your foot propped up and protected from injury while it heals.

Your doctor will tell you how much weight you can put on your foot.

Full recovery may take 3 to 5 weeks.

Outlook (Prognosis)

You should have less pain after your bunion is removed. You should also be able to walk more easily. This surgery does repair some of the deformity of your foot. But it will not give you a perfect-looking foot.

References

Richardson EG. Disorders of the hallux. In: Canale ST, Beatty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 78.

Review Date: 3/2/2010
Reviewed By: Dennis Ogiela, MD, Orthopedic Surgeon, Danbury Hospital, Danbury, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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