Patients must follow their surgeon’s instructions carefully during recovery to ensure proper healing and minimize the risk of complications. This may include avoiding certain activities or bearing weight on the operated foot for a certain period.
The recovery process following bunion surgery varies depending on the type of surgery performed and the individual patient. In general, the following timeline can be expected:
Immediately after surgery: Patients will likely experience pain, swelling, and discomfort in the operated foot. Pain medication will be prescribed to manage this discomfort.
The first few days: Patients must keep the foot elevated as much as possible to reduce swelling. Crutches or a walker may be required to get around.
1-2 weeks: Patients must wear a special postop shoe or boot to protect the foot and allow for proper healing. Depending on the type of surgery, the shoe or boot may need to be worn for up to six to eight weeks. Minimal weight bearing with foot/feet elevated, getting up for essential things only like toilet breaks 5-10 maximum per hour.
2-4 weeks: You may be weight bearing as tolerated in your post-op shoe. Movement is limited out of the house and patients are expected to rest and elevate as much as possible even when they are advised they are able to walk.
Driving – Your surgeon will advise when you can start driving, usually 4-8 weeks after surgery.
Flying – You should not fly in the first week after surgery. Check with your surgeon on individual circumstances.
Return to Work – sedentary – If you work at a desk with minimal time on your feet and you are able to elevate your foot/feet, usually between 2-3 weeks.
Return to Work – active – If you have a physical job or are standing a lot and unable to elevate your foot/feet, usually 6-8 weeks.
4-6 weeks: Continue as directed. It can take six weeks or longer before swelling has gone down enough to wear normal soft shoes.
6-12 weeks: Patients will gradually increase their activity level and may begin physical therapy to restore strength and mobility to the foot. During this time, the patient may return to light exercises.
Low impact exercise – 8 weeks as instructed and as tolerated eg slow walking, cycling, golf using caddie.
High impact exercise – 12 weeks as instructed and as tolerated eg fast walking, running, jumping, playing sport.
3-6 months: Patients will continue to follow a rehabilitation program, including exercises to improve range of motion and strength in the foot.
Some possible complications following bunion surgery include infection, bleeding, swelling, joint stiffness, nerve damage, or bunion recurrence. Patients should contact their surgeon if they experience any signs of complications, such as fever, redness, or increased pain in the affected foot.