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Bunion removal

Bunion removal is surgery to treat deformed bones of the big toe and foot.

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

The surgeon makes a cut to around 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.

Alternative Names

Bunionectomy; Hallux valgus correction

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Your health care provider may recommend this surgery if you have a bunion that hasn't gotten better with other treatments, such as shoes with a wider toe box. A bunion is when your big toe points toward your second toe, forming a bump.

Bunion surgery corrects the deformity and relieves pain caused by the bump.

Risks

Risks for any anesthesia include:

Risks for any type of surgery include:

Risks for bunion surgery include:

  • Numbness in the big toe
  • The wound does not heal well
  • The surgery does not correct the problem
  • Nerve damage
  • Persistent pain
  • Stiffness in the toe
  • Arthritis in the toe

Before the Procedure

Always tell your doctor or nurse what drugs you are taking, including medicines, 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), and naproxen (Naprosyn, Aleve).
  • 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 more than 1 or 2¬†servings of alcohol each day.
  • If you smoke, try to stop. Ask your doctor or nurse for help. Smoking can slow down wound and bone healing.
  • Tell your doctor if you get sick with a cold, flu, herpes infection, or other illness before your surgery.

On the day of your surgery:

  • You may 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.

Your doctor or nurse will tell you how to take care of yourself after surgery .

Outlook (Prognosis)

You should have less pain after your bunion is removed and your foot has healed. 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.

Full recovery may take 3 - 5 months.

References

Richardson EG. Disorders of the hallux. In: Canale ST, Beaty JH, eds. Campbell's Operative Orthopaedics. 12th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2012:chap 81.

Wexler D. Grosser DM, Kile TA. Bunion and bunionette. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD Jr, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008:chap 76.

Updated: 3/8/2014

C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


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