Bunion Surgery Myths

A bunion, otherwise known as hallux abducto valgus involves misalignment of the bones at the big toe joint and sometimes the joint within the big toe.  This abnormal anatomy causes the boney prominence on the inside of the big toe.  Conservative treatments vary, but surgery is the best treatment and extremely common.  Some people avoid the surgery because they have heard stories and misconceptions.  The surgery does typically require realignment of the bones through bone cuts and screws.  The podiatrists at Coastal Podiatry Associates are well trained, having executed hundreds of bunion surgeries.  The following statements are myths, especially when using Coastal Podiatry.


Myth 1: Bunion Surgery is Extremely Painful

Bunion surgery is not different from other surgeries.  In general, foot surgery can lead to increased pain due to swelling as the foot is below the level of the heart and blood can easily rush to the area.  In addition, the foot has less soft tissue surrounding the bones, so moderate swelling can aggravate the nerves leading to pain.  Swelling can be reduced through elevation and icing the affected foot.


Myth 2: Bunion Surgery Means a Cast and Crutches

Modern surgical techniques allow patients to mobilize quicker.  Most bunion surgeries involve walking in a surgical shoe for six weeks.  There are extremes; mild surgeries can lead to an early return to shoes while more complex surgeries may require casting and crutches.


Myth 3: You Have to be Off Work

As a general statement, this is not true.  The amount of time away from work depends on the demands of the job and type of surgery.  A patient can return to a sedentary desk job within two weeks of the surgery.  However, jobs requiring excessive walking, standing, and physical activity may require a medical leave of absence.


Myth 4:  Healing after Bunion Surgery Results in Unsightly Scars

Surgical healing is part of the process with any surgery.  Newer techniques allow for smaller incisions and alternative surgical approaches may be used to hide surgical scars.  Bunion incisions are either on the top of the foot or along the side, based on the surgeon’s technique.  A surgeon may use a plastic surgery-type closure to minimize scaring.


Myth 5:  Bunions Come Back After Surgery

Recurrence can happen after any surgery.  The return of a bunion is no different, and it may be something that can happen over time.  Patients that have excessive motion in the foot or do not reduce their risk for developing a bunion may experience a recurrence.