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What are the Different Types of Bunion Surgery?

Nicole Madison
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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There are numerous types of bunion surgery. In fact, there are more than 100 types by some estimates. Some of these surgeries are aimed at removing bone while others are used to realign tissues. There is no single procedure that works best in all cases. Some surgeons perform more than one type of procedure on the same person's foot.

Depending on a patient’s unique case, a surgeon may find it necessary to remove the lump of bone that bulges out from the side of the foot. This surgery, called a bunionectomy, removes the bulge but does not fix the alignment of the patient’s big toe. Sometimes surgeons remove entire sections of bone from the patient’s big toe. This procedure, called an osteotomy, is used to straighten out the patient’s big toe or foot. In this case, the surgeon may use special devices, such as screws or wires, to keep the bones steady during the healing process.

Sometimes a surgeon sees a need to realign the ligaments around a patient’s big toe during bunion surgery. This surgery is performed to adjust ligaments around a person’s big toe joint that have either become looser than normal or tighter than normal. When this occurs, the patient's big toe becomes misaligned, shifting in the direction of the person’s other toes. Realigning the ligaments can fix the shifting.

In some cases, it may be necessary to remove bone at the end of a patient’s first metatarsal during bunion surgery. A metatarsal is one of the long bones in the foot. The first metatarsal is connected to the metatarsophalangeal joint, which is the joint at the bottom of a person’s big toe. After removing the required amount of bone, the surgeon then reshapes the affected bones, including the big toe bone.

During some bunion surgery procedures, surgeons may remove part of a patient’s toe joint and then fuse the remaining pieces together. In other cases, an artificial joint, or part of one, is inserted in the place of a damaged joint. These artificial joints are often made of plastic.

No matter which type of bunion surgery a patient has, he can usually expect a somewhat lengthy recovery period. Some types of bunion surgery involve more of a person’s soft or bone tissue, requiring longer healing times. Depending on the type of bunion surgery, a patient may require six weeks of recovery time while other patients need up to six months to heal completely.

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Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon990407 — On Apr 20, 2015

My doctor said it takes 12 to 18 months to recover. I am still recovering and my foot is still swollen after six months.

By myharley — On Jan 27, 2012

@andee - Changing your shoes may help with the day to day pain, but at this point your bunion probably won't go away.

I developed a bunion because of arthritis. I have quite a bit of arthritis, but it seemed to bother my toes more than anything.

I had a bunion hammertoe surgery to help with this. Because there are so many different types of bunion surgery, the recovery time is different for everybody.

I know it was a long a process for me. I was able to get up and walk around for short periods of time the week after my surgery. After about 10 days I was able to drive.

Being able to have this independence within a short time was encouraging for me. It still took about 4 months for the swelling to completely go down. I would try to stay off my feet as much as possible and elevate my leg every chance I had.

Even though having bunion surgery is not serious, you really begin to realize how nice it is to be on your feet without so much pain when you have completely recovered.

By andee — On Jan 27, 2012

I have been putting off having surgery for my bunions because there is never a good time to have much down time.

If I go ahead with the surgery, how long should I expect the bunion surgery recovery time to be? With three young kids at home, it is hard to imagine myself not being able to get up and run around.

My doctor told me bunions are more common in women than in men because of the type of shoes we wear.

This makes a lot of sense to me. When I go shopping for a pair of shoes I am more concerned about what they look like. When my husband looks for a pair of shoes, he is more concerned about comfort first.

I think it would be easier for me to change the type of shoes I wear than it would be to be off for weeks because of the surgery. If I start wearing better shoes, will my bunion go away, or is it too late for that?

By LisaLou — On Jan 27, 2012

@John57 - I was told that bunions are usually caused by wearing shoes that are too small. When your toes have to be squished in a space that is too small for them, you can develop bunions.

I am sure this is the reason I had problems with bunions. I work in a nice retail clothing store and spend most of my time on my feet. I also dress up every day and thought nothing about wearing high heels all day long.

Yes, my feet were hurting at the end of the day, but I still wore my nice looking shoes every day. When my bunions became too painful, and my big toe was swollen all of the time, I knew I needed to do something different.

My doctor recommended I have an osteotomy to straighten my toe. He said that after this bunion surgery, I would have to change the type of shoes I wore, or I would have the same problem all over again.

Since my surgery I have tried to find shoes that still look dressy, but are much more comfortable and practical. All I have to do is remember how much pain I was in when I am tempted to wear some of my old shoes again.

By John57 — On Jan 26, 2012

I have had a bunion on one of my feet for quite some time. I have always wondered what causes bunions.

I don't really have any pain with this, but have this bump on the side of my foot that is annoying.

One of my friends had a lot of problems with bunions and could not walk more than a few blocks without having pain.

She ended up having bunion foot surgery which took care of the pain. I was surprised at how long it took her to be back on her feet again though.

She is on her feet all the time at work, and she was off work for at least a month after her surgery.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a The Health Board writer, where she focuses on topics like...
Learn more
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