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What Should I Expect from Bunion Surgery Recovery?

Nicole Madison
By
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Among the things you can expect from bunion surgery recovery are initial pain, discomfort, or soreness, and stiffness in the area. Over time, this discomfort typically lessens, and you should gradually gain improved movement in your big toe. Recovery isn’t usually considered very difficult, but its success depends, at least in part, on following the orders from your surgeon.

The pain after bunion surgery is usually manageable with prescription painkillers. You may need to take painkillers regularly to stay comfortable during the first few days of post-surgery recovery. With time, the pain should diminish to soreness that isn’t significant enough to require treatment.

Keep in mind that the recovery process can be somewhat long. It generally takes between six weeks to six months to recover after surgery, but sometimes, it can take up to a year. If you follow the orders from your medical provider carefully, the length of the recovery time will depend mostly on how much bone and soft tissue were affected by the surgery. Often, you will be able to resume many of your normal activities within six to eight weeks. Some people may be able to drive and return to sedentary jobs after about a week.

You'll need to get plenty of rest after surgery. For the first three to five days, put as little pressure on the affected foot as possible. You may be told to apply an ice pack to the area, which can help to keep the swelling to a minimum. Keeping the foot elevated may not only help reduce swelling, but it may also help relieve some post-surgery discomfort.

After returning home from surgery, you will still have stitches in place. A healthcare professional will usually remove them after a few weeks. You may also have special pins in your foot for up to six weeks following surgery, although three to four weeks is more typical. While the stitches are in place, it’s important to keep the foot dry, covering it while taking a shower or bath.

Once you're back on your feet and walking again, you'll probably have to use crutches to walk for at least a few weeks. In fact, some bunion surgeries require the patient to avoid putting her full weight on the affected foot for as many as six to eight weeks. It is important to follow medical orders on this, as keeping weight off the foot usually helps you to recover more quickly.

Footwear changes are also among the things that you should expect from bunion surgery recovery. You may have a walking cast or special shoes designed for recovery. Some patients can start wearing regular shoes again in a about a month, but in most cases, it’s necessary to wear special shoes for two to three months following bunion surgery.

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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 siennaw — On Feb 25, 2014

The recovery for bunion surgery really depends on the type of procedure done. There is traditional bunion surgery which can take around six to eight weeks. Newer techniques for bunion treatment, most specifically scarless bunion surgery is virtually painless and recovery period is three days or less.

By anon932735 — On Feb 13, 2014

I had my right foot done (bunion on both sides of my foot). I was worried about recovery time from everything I read but it really wasn't bad. I was able to heal walk with the surgical boot.

I did nothing but rest for one week and iced my foot constantly and stopped the pain meds at seven days. I used crutches to get around for three weeks. At three and a half weeks, the stitches dissolved. I'm wearing a regular shoe, walking with no issues and driving. I have the left foot scheduled in two weeks.

By anon926516 — On Jan 19, 2014

I'm on my third foot surgery and I have rides as well as pins put in and it hurts a little.

By serenesurface — On Oct 19, 2013

I had bunion surgery one month ago and I still have pain. I didn't know that recovering from bunion surgery would be so painful. It's taking me longer than usual, I'm still off of my feet most of the day. As soon as I start moving around, my foot swells.

By ddljohn — On Oct 19, 2013

@MikeMason-- I think it's best to ask your doctor about when you can start putting weight, etc. Every patient's condition and needs are a little different and your doctor would know best.

Recovery from bunion surgery is fairly quick. I personally started walking very quickly, about a week and a half after the procedure but with surgical shoes. Do you have surgical shoes? Those are great, they protect the toe and allow you to walk without pain. I had the surgical shoes on during most of recovery, for about five weeks total. When I took them off, I had no problems walking without them and no pain.

Since you just had surgery, you need to take it easy for at least a week or two to let the toe heal. So don't put weight on it until your doctor says it's okay and keep elevating.

By stoneMason — On Oct 18, 2013

I had a bunion operation just a few days ago. I'm resting at home now with my foot wrapped and elevated. My stitches haven't been removed yet and I'm on painkillers. I'm using crutches when I have to go to the bathroom and I don't put weight on that foot at all.

Has anyone here had a bunion operation before? How long did it take for you to start putting weight on that foot? How was your recovery?

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...
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