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Bunion Surgery

The most common types of bunion surgery are ‘scarf osteotomy’ and ‘chevron osteotomy’. Both are normally carried out as day case procedures while you are under a general anaesthetic. You will also be given a local anaesthetic into the foot to reduce pain after the operation.

What does surgery involve?

A cut (incision) is made along the big toe. The bones are then divided and repositioned, being held in place by tiny screws.

Before surgery

You can help improve the outcome of surgery by attending a pre-assessment screening where you’ll have blood tests to check for levels of Vitamin D and swabs to rule out infection or other problems. You’ll also be weighed and have an opportunity to discuss your medical history. This is important so that any anaesthetics problems can be identified.

Please note: it’s important to stop smoking at least eight weeks before your procedure; this is because smoking can affect the body’s ability to heal and causes health problems including an increased risk of blood clots forming in the lungs (pulmonary embolism) or calf (deep vein thrombosis).

What happens after surgery?

Your foot will be numb and pain-free (from a local anaesthetic injection around the affected area). A member of our physiotherapy team will help you to stand, supported by crutches, and will give you a tailored programme of exercises to help you walk correctly in a padded stiff shoe that supports your toe.

In most cases, you’ll be given painkillers to take for a few days and offered a follow-up appointment.

How can I speed up my recovery?

Raise your foot above the level of your heart as much as possible to reduce swelling, and avoid putting weight on your foot for the first few days. You should gradually be able to put more weight on the foot in the padded shoe over the first six weeks; after six weeks you should be able to wear your normal shoes.

Make sure you follow any advice about keeping the wound clean and dry, and carry out the exercises advised by your physiotherapist as these will help you to return to your normal activities as quickly as possible.

Please note: it’s important to avoid smoking or taking anti-inflammatory painkillers as these can slow the healing process.

When can I drive again?

The DVLA states that it’s the responsibility of the driver to ensure they are always in control of the vehicle. A good guide is when you can stamp down hard with the foot to stop the car during an emergency stop. How long this takes will vary, depending on how quickly you recover.

Although Mr Heidari will advise you about when it’s safe to start driving again, it is your own responsibility to drive safely and you should also check with your vehicle insurer to confirm you are covered.

When can I return to work?

This varies, depending on the type of work you do and the speed of your recovery. In most cases, if you have a sedentary job (sitting down most of the time), you should be able to return after around four weeks. If your job involves manual work, you may need up to eight weeks off.

What are the risks of this type of surgery?

  • All surgery carries risks. With this type of surgery, risks include a small chance of infection which can be treated with antibiotics
  • There is a small chance of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) following any surgery, although this is unusual following this type of surgery. However, you may be given blood-thinning medication after surgery as a precaution or if you are at higher risk. You will also be given support socks and exercises to reduce the chances of DVT
  • There is also a small chance of nerve damage which can cause temporary or permanent numbness around the toe
  • In a small number of cases, the deformity is either under-corrected or over-corrected which may result in the need for further surgery. However, this is very rare

You can find more information about recovering from bunion surgery in our patient information leaflet, which can be downloaded from this website.