Bunion Correction

What is bunion correction?

Bunion correction is surgical treatment for a bunion, which is a bony bump on the outside of the base of your big toe. Bunion correction is also known as a bunionectomy, bunion surgery or hallux valgus correction

Surgery is generally reserved for people whose bunions cause persistent pain and interference with day to day life. There are several different surgical procedures for bunions. They involve one or more of the following:

  • realigning the bone to straighten the big toe
  • removing a section of bone to straightening the big toe
  • removing swollen tissue around the big toe joint
  • fusing (arthrodesis) the affected bone

How does bunion correction work?

There are many different types of bunion correction surgery. All have the aim to remove the bony deformity and re-align the big toe. The type of surgery you need depends on the cause of your bunion and how big it is.

Common types of bunion correction surgery are:

  • osteotomy ­(cut into) – where the base of the big toe joint is cut and the toe is re-aligned into a normal position
  • exostectomy (cut away) – where the bony bunion is cut away but the toe isn’t re-aligned
  • arthrodesis (fusion) – where the deformed parts of the joint at the base of the big toe are removed and the foot bone is joined to bottom big toe bone with screws. After 12–14 weeks, new bone grows and fuses the bones

Bunion correction surgery is usually done under local anaesthesia (an ankle block) as a day procedure, meaning you can go home a couple of hours after surgery.

Possible complications

Bunion surgery is generally very successful. But complications can occur. These include bleeding during and after surgery, infection and altered sensation at the surgery site. It’s also possible for the bunion to recur.

What to expect after bunion correction?

After surgery, your foot will be bandaged. You will also wear a cast or boot for the first two weeks. This will take the pressure off the front of your foot. During this time, you should try to stay off your foot as much as possible. Keeping it elevated can help reduced swelling.

Your stiches will be removed 10–14 days after surgery. At this visit, you will be fitted with a foot brace but you might not be able to bear weight at first, so you’ll need crutches to help you get around. You will be able to gradually start bearing some weight.

You should be able to drive after a week or two.

The swelling should resolve within 8–12 weeks, which is when you can return more vigorous activity (eg some sports). Complete recovery can take several months.

You’ll need to wear comfortable, well-fitted shoes after the surgery. You should avoid high heels for at least 6 months.