How to Recover from Bunion Surgery: 11 Tips That Will Help! (2023)

Deciding to have surgery of any kind is a big decision and it can disrupt your life in both small and big ways. But even though bunion surgery falls in this category, this procedure is one the most common surgeries performed in podiatry today.

So even if the thought of “going under the knife” is intimidating, you can rest assured – it will definitely be worth it.

Once you’ve completed rehabilitation, you will have less pain while you do the things you love (some of which you may not have been able to do for a while). But to ensure that you successfully recover from your bunion surgery, it is vital that you stick to a good recovery plan.

Typically, it will take about 4-6 months to fully recover from a bunion surgery. Although, the length of recovery varies for everyone. And factors like your age, the severity of your bunion, and specifics of the surgery will play roles in determining the amount of time it takes for you to completely heal.

(Video) 6 Best Bunion Surgery Pros & Cons [Get the FASTEST Recovery Time]

Of course, here at Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida, we strive to help you in every way possible – from your initial consultation to your very last day of recovery and beyond.

That is why we decided to make a list of important things to keep in mind when recovering from bunion surgery. Sure, we will give you plenty of instructions throughout the process, but it’s always good to reinforce this.

So if you have decided to finally get that painful bunion fixed, then keep reading our blog to find out how to successfully recover so you can get back to your regular routine as soon as possible.

How to Recover from Bunion Surgery: 11 Tips That Will Help! (1)

11 Tips to Recover from Bunion Surgery

First and foremost, you should make sure to choose a podiatrist who is an expert specifically in bunion surgeries (since this is a procedure that is very complex in nature).

You should also keep in mind that bunion surgery may not be able to fully correct foot deformities, structure alignment, and function – though it can greatly improve them. In other words, it’s best to maintain realistic expectations.

(Video) 5 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Bunions

The reality is that taking time to actually go through the procedure is the easiest part of having bunion surgery.

You most likely already know that you have to keep your bandages dry, clean and elevated, apply ice regularly and take prescription medications as directed, but there are other things you can do to make your recovery time more comfortable as well.

After all, if you are going to be confined to your bed or needing to use crutches everywhere you go, not only is your foot sidelined for a while – so are your hands!

With that in mind, we have some great tips for you to consider for before and after your bunion surgery:

  1. Prepare for coming home. Once you get back home, you will likely still feel woozy from the anesthesia, so make sure you prepare ahead of time a comfortable place to rest as soon as you return from surgery. Whether you are planning on taking a nap on the couch or lying in bed, have the necessary pillows handy to elevate your foot.
  2. Prepare for the crutches. We may recommend that you use crutches for some time after surgery so that you can avoid putting any weight on your foot. You should prepare your house ahead of time – clear wide pathways and remove any potential trip hazards, like unstable rugs, kids’ toys, etc.
  3. Prepare for future showers. When it comes time to shower, we may not want you to get your foot wet. You should keep in mind that avoiding putting weight on your affected foot also includes while you are in the shower. Using a shower chair or a handheld shower head can make this process much quicker and easier.
  4. Keep things within reach. Before you go in for surgery, you should determine where you usually spend most of your time and make sure everything is within reach – it is not fun when you finally get comfortable on the couch and realize the remote is on the other side of the room.
  5. Get a little help. Now that you are on crutches and supposed have your foot elevated as much as possible, you won’t be able to perform many of your routine tasks. So plan ahead to have someone help you do things like walk your dog or handle your laundry.

    How to Recover from Bunion Surgery: 11 Tips That Will Help! (2)

  6. Hop in the backseat. Depending on the procedure, we will recommend that you do not drive for a certain period of time after your surgery (as this can put unnecessary pressure on your foot). You should make sure that someone is able to drive you to and from surgery, along with any follow-up appointments after your procedure.
  7. Stock up your kitchen and bathroom. You won’t be able to go out much after the procedure. So before surgery, you should make sure your kitchen and bathroom are stocked up with all the necessary supplies. This includes foods that are portable (so you can eat from your comfy places) and easy to make.
  8. Do some physical therapy. There are many reasons why we recommend physical therapy during your recovery – a physical therapist is with you every step of the way, helping you walk with your crutches, then your boot, and, finally, your “new” foot. Not to mention that a therapist also ensures that you keep your foot and leg strong for when the time comes to walk on your own again.
  9. Don’t start using your foot too early. When you graduate to a walking boot, or even before that, resist the temptation to cheat and use your foot. It’s crucial to allow your bones and other affected tissues to heal properly, and any premature pressure can offset this process – just sit back and enjoy the time you get to spend relaxing.
  10. Always follow recovery instructions. This is obviously a very sensitive aspect of any type of surgery – even when you think that you are okay enough to skip some of the instructions given for recovery, you should always follow them “to a T.” Doing so will help you heal correctly and prevent your bunion from returning in the future.
  11. Remember to perform all the basic – yet vital – recovery steps. Even though we’ve already mentioned as much, we thought it wouldn’t hurt to reinforce this point. You should keep your bandages dry and clean at all times, and ice the area several times a day (to control pain and swelling). You should also keep your foot elevated as much as possible and take prescribed medications as directed.
(Video) How to Fix Bunions in 5 Steps

By heeding these instructions, you should be able to recover from your bunion surgery in no time!

But just because you are comfy and pain-free doesn’t mean that your work stops here – you also need to keep a lookout for any symptoms that may indicate something is wrong and know when to reach out for medical advice during this sensitive period.

Which brings us to our next point.

When to Call Your Doctor

Here are some signs that indicate you should call us immediately:

  • Your dressings get wet or they come undone – don’t rewrap them yourself.
  • Significant increase in your pain despite taking prescribed medications.
  • Redness, inflammation, warmth, bleeding, or increased swelling in your feet.
  • A numbness in your feet or a "pins and needles" sensation.
  • Bleeding or oozing through dressings.
  • Lower leg swelling or pain.
  • You run a fever.
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These symptoms aren’t normal, and you shouldn’t dismiss them as “not a big a deal.”

If you experience any of these symptoms, contact us right away. We can help you determine what exactly is causing your discomfort and provide the best solution to get you back on the right track.

Contact Us Today!

The most important thing to remember is that healing and recovery can be different for every person. So listen to your body and contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

All you have to do is call our Foot & Ankle Associates of Florida office at (407) 339-7759 or (352) 589-9550 (if you are calling from Lake County). You can also simply fill out our handy online form to request an appointment at any of our five Central Florida offices today!

FAQs

How long does it take for bunion surgery to stop hurting? ›

You will have pain and swelling that slowly improves in the 6 weeks after surgery. You may have some minor pain and swelling that lasts as long as 6 months to a year. After surgery, you will need to wear a cast or a special type of shoe to protect your toe and to keep it in the right position for at least 3 to 6 weeks.

What helps pain from bunion surgery? ›

Medications. Acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help you control the pain of a bunion. Cortisone injections also might help. Shoe inserts.

How long is bed rest after bunion surgery? ›

About 2-6 weeks of no or extremely limited weight bearing activity. About 6 weeks before you can return to weightbearing activity, including driving your car if you had surgery on your right foot.

How long should I stay off my foot after bunion surgery? ›

You should keep your foot dry and stay off your feet for 3 to 5 days after your surgery. You should use a walker, cane, knee scooter or crutches to get around. Follow your doctor's recommendations exactly for any medications you have been given after surgery. You should expect swelling and some pain after surgery.

Should I wiggle my toes after bunion surgery? ›

o If you had surgery on your toes, don't wiggle them. It's fine to move your ankle back and forth as long as it doesn't hurt. Don't worry about wiggling your toes. We've bandaged your toes in a specific position for alignment during recovery.

What is the fastest way to recover from foot surgery? ›

Elevation is crucial to a fast recovery as it helps with pain and swelling. Elevate above the hip level. This is the most beneficial position as it helps bring blood away to reduce pressure and lessen pain. Also, use ice or ice packs soon after surgery by applying for 20 minutes on and then 20 minutes off.

Why does bunion surgery hurt so much? ›

Many times this pain happens after bunion surgery because the bone for the great toe was shortened a little too much during the correction of the bunion. The shape of the foot is changed and the patient's weight moves over to the next toes during walking.

Why does my foot hurt at night after bunion surgery? ›

It is normal to experience swelling and pain after foot surgery especially if tissue has been cut or removed and bones were moved back into place. You may even experience tingling or burning as your foot heals. Once healing takes place, the pain should continue to decrease until it subsides.

How do you shower after bunion surgery? ›

While Bathing – Prop your foot up on the side of the tub and wash the rest of your body. Keep the water away from the stitches so that they do not lose their ineffectiveness. Consider keeping the stitches adequately covered in a wrap while bathing. This will give added protection.

Should I keep my foot elevated all night after surgery? ›

Swelling to some degree is common after surgery. To reduce swelling and promote comfort, elevation is very helpful. Elevate the foot/ankle above the level of the heart, using several pillows, for at least 14 days after surgery.

Do you sleep in boot after bunion surgery? ›

You may sleep without your boot once you are 4 weeks from surgery. after surgery you will be allowed to bear weight on your foot as tolerated in your boot. This may change based on skin healing or other added procedures. Use your crutches, walker, or knee scooter for a total of 4 weeks after surgery.

Can I wear socks after bunion surgery? ›

NO nylons, tight fitting anklets or socks for 4-6 weeks, they will CHANGE your toe position. You can get fit for a temporary oversized flexible running shoe. Schuler Shoes will assist you. Usually the shoe fit is 1/2 to 1 size longer to accommodate your post op swelling and your new foot.

Can I walk 2 weeks after bunion surgery? ›

Patients who undergo minimally invasive foot surgery may have to wear a small postoperative shoe for a few weeks after their surgery, but most can return to regular daily activities like walking or going to work right away.

Can I drive 2 weeks after bunion surgery? ›

After traditional bunion surgery, you should not drive until six weeks post-operation. However, most patients do not feel comfortable driving again until 8 to 9 weeks after surgery.

What happens if I walk too soon after bunion surgery? ›

In MacGill's clinical experience, patients who put weight on the foot too early can increase postoperative pain and swelling, as well as risk loss of correction and possible delayed bone healing, he said.

How long will foot swell after bunion surgery? ›

The average time for the swelling to settle fully after surgery is six months. The best way of reducing the swelling is by elevating the foot strictly in the first two weeks after surgery and by moving the toes, ankle and knee. Swelling can put tension on the wound edges and may cause problems with wound healing.

Can you mess up bunion surgery? ›

Unfortunately, bunion surgeries can fail in a number of ways, often leaving the patient with more pain, persistent deformity and significant dissatisfaction and dysfunction.

How often should I ice my foot after bunion surgery? ›

Cold packs or ice should be applied to the surgical site following surgery. Cold packs are preferred because they do not leak. You should apply the cold pack (or ice) intermittently for 15-20 minutes at a time several times per day, during waking hours.

What helps speed up surgery recovery? ›

Ensuring a Fast and Successful Recovery After Surgery
  • Get Plenty of Rest. The most important thing you can do following a surgical procedure is to get plenty of rest. ...
  • Move Around Without Overdoing it. ...
  • Eat a Nutrient-Dense Diet. ...
  • Rehabilitation Services in Bishop, CA.
27 Mar 2021

How do you sit after foot surgery? ›

Your doctor will want you to rest as much as possible right after surgery. Your foot will swell, and may become painful, when it is left hanging down. So, when you are sitting or lying down, keep the leg elevated to help keep the swelling down and reduce pain.

What can you not do after foot surgery? ›

In the days and weeks after surgery, you'll likely be told to avoid putting too much (if any) weight on your foot, avoid unnecessary physical labor, and rest as much as possible. You'll also, obviously, prefer to avoid any preventable accidents when moving around the house, or navigating up and down stairs.

When is pain the worst after bunion surgery? ›

Bunion surgery usually hurts for the first 48 hours after surgery then calms down. The worst time is 24-48 hours after surgery when the local anesthesia that was used to numb up your foot completely wears off. Ice and elevation almost constantly are the best way to manage your pain!

What is the most severe bunion surgery? ›

For a severe bunion, surgery may involve removing the enlarged portion of the bone, cutting and realigning the bone, and correcting the position of the tendons and ligaments. Arthritic bunion or big toe joint. If the joint is damaged beyond repair, as is often seen in arthritis, it may need to be fused.

What shoes are best after bunion surgery? ›

Soft leather shoes can also be suitable. Good cushioning. After an operation, the shocks of walking usually cause pain. That's why we advise you to choose shoes with good cushioning.

What do you need at home after foot surgery? ›

You'll most likely need over-the-counter pain relievers, antibiotics so that you can avoid infection, reusable ice packs to help decrease swelling and help with pain, and supplies for covering your cast while you bathe.

Are people happy after bunion surgery? ›

A majority of patients are satisfied with their outcome after bunion surgery. Recurrence is possible, but not particularly likely. And, return of a bunion is not necessarily a complication, but something that can happen over time.

Can you ice too much after bunion surgery? ›

There is a warning. Make sure you do not use ice for too long or on fragile skin. Place ice around the ankle rather than the toes. Allow time to recover from your surgery.

What can you not do after bunion surgery? ›

In order to avoid most of the bunion surgery complications, make sure you do not put your weight on the healing toe or walk without a special stiff-soled shoe to avoid re-injuring your foot. Post surgery physical therapy will begin according to your surgeon's vision on how your bones and soft tissues are healing.

How do I get my foot to stop hurting after surgery? ›

In addition to resting your foot, your doctor is also likely to recommend a routine of ice, compression and elevation after the surgery. Specifically, ice works wonders when it comes to reducing swelling and inflammation, which can in-turn relieve pain and discomfort.

How do you go to the bathroom after foot surgery? ›

A bedside commode can be helpful if it is hard to get to the bathroom after surgery. If patients do not have a bathtub where they can sit down and prop their operated foot outside the tub, a shower chair or stool can help patients to cleanse their body while keeping weight off their operated leg in the shower.

What should I wear after bunion surgery? ›

For the first two weeks, the doctor will ask you to wear a surgical boot at all times. This boot works as a cast to protect your bone structure and limit damage to your stitches. Don't move the dressing or cast as this can damage the healing process. When showering, use a plastic bag to cover the cast.

What do you eat after bunion surgery? ›

Eat These Foods to Speed Up Recovery After Surgery
  • Protein – soy, dairy, beans, eggs, cottage cheese, poultry, fish, meat, and nuts are all excellent sources of protein. ...
  • Vitamin C – vitamin C helps your body make collagen.
29 Jun 2018

What helps swelling go down? ›

Lifestyle and home remedies
  • Movement. Moving and using the muscles in the part of your body affected by edema, especially your legs, may help pump the excess fluid back toward your heart. ...
  • Elevation. ...
  • Massage. ...
  • Compression. ...
  • Protection. ...
  • Reduce salt intake.
1 Dec 2020

How many days should you ice after surgery? ›

The inflammatory process is most active in the first 24 hours after a surgery, persisting for up to 2 weeks. We recommend that you continue the aforementioned icing routine for the first 2 weeks after your surgery. This is a very effective way to maximize your healing environment.

How do you prevent blood clots after foot surgery? ›

Wearing compression stockings and periodically elevating your legs can also help prevent blood clots. If following ankle surgery, there is persistent pain and swelling, even after the plaster is removed, it's important to see an orthopedic doctor. These symptoms may indicate an infection or fluid retention.

How long are you on crutches after bunion surgery? ›

Keep using your crutches for as long as your surgeon advises, normally around two weeks, but sometimes up to six weeks depending on the type of operation. After this, you can gradually increase how much weight you put through your foot and how far you walk as part of the bunion surgery recovery process.

Can I wear regular shoes after bunion surgery? ›

Most people are able to start wearing a regular shoe approximately two months after surgery as it takes time for the swelling to resolve.

When can I bend my toe after bunion surgery? ›

Avoid going up on your toes for another 6 weeks. 13) Normal walking will not be a part of your routine for at least 8 weeks after surgery. Expect mild pain and restriction of movement (bending) of the toes for 8 weeks or more. Normal shoes may not be possible for 8-16 weeks after surgery depending on swelling.

What happens first week after bunion surgery? ›

Week 1: The most important week: The first week after bunion surgery you should expect to spend most of the time resting with her foot elevated. Especially the first 3-4 days it is critical to keep her foot elevated to decrease swelling and pain.

What happens if you walk too soon after bunion surgery? ›

In MacGill's clinical experience, patients who put weight on the foot too early can increase postoperative pain and swelling, as well as risk loss of correction and possible delayed bone healing, he said.

Why is bunion surgery so painful? ›

Many times this pain happens after bunion surgery because the bone for the great toe was shortened a little too much during the correction of the bunion. The shape of the foot is changed and the patient's weight moves over to the next toes during walking.

Do I have to wear boot all the time after bunion surgery? ›

For the first two weeks, the doctor will ask you to wear a surgical boot at all times. This boot works as a cast to protect your bone structure and limit damage to your stitches. Don't move the dressing or cast as this can damage the healing process.

How long does it take for bones to fuse after bunion surgery? ›

The usual recovery period after bunion surgery is 8 to 10 weeks, depending on the amount of soft tissue and bone affected. Complete healing may take as long as 1 year.

How often should I elevate my foot after bunion surgery? ›

To reduce swelling and promote comfort, elevation is very helpful. Elevate the foot/ankle above the level of the heart, using several pillows, for at least 14 days after surgery. Do not place pillows directly behind the knee. Elevation for 30 minutes every 2 hours is a good initial recommendation.

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