Surgical Information

Bunion Repair

What is bunion repair?

Bunion repair is surgery to relieve the pain and discomfort of a bunion. A bunion is a bony bump that forms at the base of the big toe where it attaches to the foot. It develops when your big toe pushes against the others, forcing the joint to get bigger and stick out. The skin over the bunion might be red and sore. Smaller bunions (called bunionettes) can develop on the joint of your little toe. If left untreated, bunions often become bigger and more painful over time.

The goal of surgery is to restore the big toe to its normal position by eliminating the bony protrusion and realigning the joint. There are several different types of surgery. The type of surgery performed depends on the severity of the bunion. It's important to consult a qualified foot surgeon to determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

  • Bunionectomy is performed for mild deformities. In this procedure, the surgeon shaves off the enlarged portion of the bone and realigns the muscles, tendons and ligaments surrounding the toe joint.
  • Bunionectomy with osteotomy treats moderate deformities. The surgeon cuts the bone close to the metatarsal head (the bone directly behind the big toe) in order to shift it back into proper alignment. The bones are held in place with wires or screws.
  • Osteotomy is used to correct severe bunions. The surgeon cuts away the bony excess at the head of the metatarsal bone, rotates it, and fixes it in place with pins or screws.

When is surgery recommended?

If you have pain that limits your everyday activities, and all non-surgical methods of treatment have failed – including well-fitting shoes, orthotics, padding or splinting, over-the-counter medications and cortisone injections – then you should consider surgery. Bunion repair surgery is never performed for cosmetic reasons.

What is the recovery time?

Most patients are able to walk immediately after bunion repair. However, full recovery can take weeks or even months, depending on the type of surgery you have. Recovery from bunionectomy usually takes three to four weeks. Recovery from osteotomy can take anywhere from four weeks to three months. Patients are encouraged to wear roomy, well-fitting shoes after bunion surgery and avoid narrow footwear to prevent a recurrence.