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Foot bunion removal surgery

Bunions are bony bumps located on the joint of the big toe.

In some cases, the bony growth within the joint causes the big toe to turn in towards the second toe.

The bunion can cause pain and swelling in your big toe, and, since it sticks out, it can rub on the inside of your shoes.

There may be a joint deformity called hallux valgus (hallux means big toe, valgus means bent outward) that causes this. It can also be as simple as not allowing enough width for the toes to fit naturally in shoes.

Bunions are sometimes caused by arthritis in the big toe joint and can become more painful if left untreated.

Treatment can ease the pain. You can wear comfortable supportive footwear - narrow, pointed shoes are best avoided. Painkillers can help, as can comfortable insoles and padding over the bunion. However, surgery is most effective if symptoms are not eased. The operation to remove bunions is called a bunionectomy.

What happens during a bunionectomy operation?

It is possible to perform bunion surgery under a local or general anaesthetic. It usually takes between half an hour and an hour to perform the operation.

There are several types of bunionectomies. Some involve the removal and realignment of the bones in your foot. Soft tissue release or tightening can sometimes resolve bunion problems. For some very severe cases, bones of the big toe are fused or the bunion is cut out along with some of the bone at the base of the toe. It is important to discuss the type of surgery you will have with your surgeon.

With any type of bunionectomy your surgeon will make one or more incisions (cuts) near your big toe. They will use instruments to trim the bones and remove the bunion. Wire, screws or plates may also be used to hold the new joint in place.

After bunion surgery

Depending on what procedure is used you should be able to go home the same day of the surgery. In some cases, an overnight stay is required. Discuss your length of stay with your surgeon.

You may need to wear a plaster cast or dressing. You will be given a surgical shoe so you can walk on your heel. You will need crutches to move around.

In the first few weeks following your surgery, your foot and ankle will be sore and swollen. You will need to spend most of your time with your leg raised so that the swelling settles.

You will not be able to wear normal footwear for at least three to four months after surgery. When you do transition to normal shoes it is recommended they are wide fitting and have low heels. Avoid any narrow, high-heeled shoes that might put pressure on the surgical area.

What are the complications of bunion surgery?

Any surgical procedure may result in complications.

General complications may include


Blood clots (DVT - deep vein thrombosis).

Infection of the surgical site (wound).

Loss of movement in the big toe.



Specific complications in bunionectomy may include:

Continued swelling and pain.

Loss of movement in the big toe.

Nerve damage.

Problems with bone healing

Pain in the ball of the foot.

The bunion returning.

Complex regional pain syndrome - a condition that causes long-term (chronic) burning pain in one of the limbs.

Treatment Overview

Combining a calming hospital environment with outstanding patient care so you can recover as quickly as possible.

  • Typical hospital stay Same-day

  • Type of anaesthetic Local or General

  • Covered by health insurance? Yes

  • Can I pay privately? Yes

You’re in safe hands at Sulis Hospital.

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