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Family Foot & Ankle

What to Expect with Bunion Surgery

With another brutal winter slowly fading into spring, there’s a lot of excitement among Cincinnatians to get back outside. For many, however, the warmer temperatures bring some trepidation about painful bunions limiting treasured activities, or even embarrassment by the thought of sandal weather exposing the unsightly bumps.

Although conservative care is usually recommended first, bunion surgery is the only way to remove the bony growth, and in some cases it can be the only way to properly address the pain. If you’re heading down this route, what can you expect?

The first thing you need to know is that there isn’t just one “bunion surgery,” but several possible procedures chosen based on your physical condition, needs, and lifestyle goals. These can range from simple realignment of soft tissues, to cutting and realignment of bone, to fusing bones, and more. Often, wires and screws are required, but not always. That said, almost all surgeries are performed outpatient, no hospital stay required.

Second, recovery basics. The length of full recovery can vary quite a bit (6 weeks to 6 months or more) based on the procedure selected as well as your health, but there are some basics common to most surgeries.

You’ll need to keep your feet clean and dry for a few weeks before the stitches can come out, and you’ll probably have a period of a few more weeks after that where you have to limit weight-bearing activity as much as possible. Aids like splints or walking boots may also be required at this time, and it usually takes at least a month before you can go back to wearing normal shoes.

Eventually, you will be able to gradually return to normal activity. This process begins in the second month after surgery on average, but again can vary quite a bit based on your precise circumstances.

The last thing you need to know? Although surgery can be scary for many and the recovery process can be frustrating, the benefits usually far outweigh the drawbacks, especially if years of stubborn pain has kept you from the things you love. “I wish I had done this 10 years ago!” is something we hear at our offices all time.

If you’re dealing with debilitating bunion pain, call Family Foot and Ankle Center at (513) 728-4800 or (859) 282-1572 and see if conservative treatment methods or bunion surgery are right for you. You can also schedule an appointment online.

Dr. Cynthia Miller
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Dr. Cynthia Miller is a board certified podiatrist who has been established in the Cincinnati area since 2004.
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