Type of Surgery
Last updated: 11/24/2009
Recovery from a bunionectomy takes place both at the surgical center as well as in the patient's home. Immediate post-surgical care is provided in the surgical recovery area. The patient's foot will be monitored for bleeding and excessive swelling;...
some swelling is considered normal. The patient will need to stay for a few hours in the recovery area before being discharged. This allows time for the anesthesia to wear off. The patient will be monitored for nausea and vomiting, potential aftereffects of the anesthesia, and will be given something light to eat, such as crackers and juice or ginger ale, to see how the food is tolerated. Hospital policy usually requires that the patient have someone drive them home, as there is a safety concern after having undergone anesthesia. In addition, the patient will most likely be on pain medication that could cause drowsiness and impaired thinking.
It is important to contact the surgeon if any of the following occur after discharge from the surgical center:
- constant or increased pain at the surgical site
- redness and a warmth to the touch in the area around the dressing
- swelling in the calf above the operated foot
- the dressing has become wet and falls off
- the dressing is bloody
While the patient can expect to return to normal activities within six to eight weeks after the surgery, the foot is at increased risk for swelling for several months. When the patient can expect to bear weight on the operated foot will depend on the extent of the surgery. The milder the deformity, the less tissue is removed and the sooner the return to normal activity level. During the sixto-eight-week recovery period, a special shoe, boot, or cast may be worn to accommodate the surgical bandage and to help provide stability to the foot.
This animation describes what a bunion is and the one of the possible surgeries used to correct it, namely a metatarsal osteotomy.
A bunionectomy is a surgical procedure to excise, or remove, a bunion. A bunion is an enlargement of the joint at the base of the big toe and is comprised of bone and soft tissue. It is usually a result of inflammation and irritation from poorly fitting (narrow and tight) shoes inconjunction with an overly mobile first metatarsal joint and over-pronation of the foot. Over time, a painful lump appears at the side of the joint, while the big toe appears to buckle and move sideway towards the second toe. New bone growth can occur in response to the inflammatory process, and a bone spur may develop. Therefore, the development of a bunion may involve soft tissue as well as a hard bone spur. The intense pain makes walking and other activities extremely difficult. Since the involved joint is a significant structure in providing weight-bearing stability, walking on the foot while trying to avoid putting pressure on the painful area can create an unstable gait.
Foot and ankle surgery rehabilitation can be done at home but usually requires some formal physiotherapy. The physiotherapist will advise you on correct exercises, walking patterns and stretches to ensure optimal post operative recovery.
-Institute of Surgical Podiatry
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