The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Better Bunion Surgery Recovery

Posted by on Wednesday, June 27th, 2012


Yesterday we talked about how to decide when it’s time to have bunion surgery and how many people put it off because they hear how difficult and painful the recovery from the process can be. Now everyone’s bunion surgery experience will be different because of variables such as the complexity of the problem, the experience of the surgeon, the type of procedure (there are more than one hundred types of bunion procedures) and the overall health of the patient. However, there are some things you can do to make your recovery a little bit easier. Here are some tips:

  • Choose an experienced podiatric surgeon. I think we all understand that doctors and surgeons have to get their experience somewhere; we just don’t want them to get that experience on us. Choose a podiatric surgeon who has performed many bunion surgeries over the years so you’ll feel confident that you’re getting the best care possible. The podiatric surgeons at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) have been performing bunion surgery for many years and are up on all the latest techniques that will make your surgery successful. Although some people may have the procedure done by an orthopedic surgeon, it really is best to choose a podiatric surgeon, whose training is really focused on that complex set of bones we call our feet.
  • Get it done sooner than later. As we discussed yesterday, some people may recommend not having the surgery until you absolutely have to, such as when the pain is unbearable. However, that most likely means that your condition is advanced and now a more complicated procedure. You don’t have to jump into surgery at the tiniest bump on your foot, but if your podiatrist says you should seriously consider surgery, well, seriously consider it.
  • Listen to your surgeon. Bunion surgery is done on an outpatient basis, typically taking about an hour. After your surgery, your surgeon will give you instructions for how to treat your foot. Follow. These. Instructions. Based on everything I’ve read about recovery from bunion surgery, the biggest mistake patients can make is not to take their doctors’ instructions seriously. If your surgeon says keep your weight off your feet, then keep off them. If your surgeon says elevate and ice your foot, then elevate and ice your foot. If you’re unsure of anything you’ve been told or what you can do, call your doctor. If your doctor is good (see above), he or she will be happy to help you out. I bet that a pretty fair percentage of painful bunion surgery recovery stories include a little pushing on the limits given by their doctors (“My podiatric surgeon said not to put any weight on my foot, so I thought the bike would be okay.”).
  • Keep weight off your foot, elevate, and ice. As noted, while there are many different types of bunion surgeries and a variety of levels of complexity, these are a few post-recovery steps (pun not intended) that will be recommended to everyone. You’ll likely be told to keep weight off your foot for about six to eight weeks so the soft tissues and bones can heal. That means crutches. Think of it as a chance to really build your shoulders. If you don’t listen to your doctor and start putting weight on your foot too soon, you risk undoing all the doctor’s work, and then your surgery will have been a waste of time. Elevate your foot as much as you can; foot pain is so terrible because blood rushes down to our feet, so keeping your feet above heart level will help pull the blood away. Ice will help with the swelling. Just doing these simple things will help with the pain of recovery.
  • Get healthy. As we discussed yesterday, your recovery will go a lot more smoothly if you’re healthy. Plan ahead and get yourself in good condition before your surgery. Your feet will thank you.
  • Prepare your life. One person in the foot health forum had a lot of great tips for getting your life in order so your recovery, especially those first few days, will be easier. Here are some ideas for things to do before your surgery:
    • – Make sure all your laundry is done, all the beds are made, everything that needs to be put away or taken out is taken out;
    • – Do things that you need done, like getting your hair cut, watering your plants, or cutting your lawn;
    • – Go grocery shopping and really stock up on necessities. If you like to cook, make some meals ahead of time and put them in the freezer. Make sure that things you will need in your kitchen are in easy reach.
    • – If you sleep on the second floor of your home, consider making up a bed on your sofa or floor downstairs so you don’t have to negotiate stairs. If you do decide to do this, make sure the bed is made before you leave for your surgery so it’s ready when you get home.
    • – If you have a pet, make arrangements for someone to help you take care of him, her, or them; even fish need to be fed!
    • – Put all the electronic devices you expect to use in the place you expect to spend the most time AND their chargers.
    • – Don’t be afraid to ask for help. It’s more important to listen to your doctor and stay off your feet than prove how impervious you are to pain.

Now keep in mind that no one’s surgery is going to be painless and no one’s recovery is going to take as little time as they wish it would. Hopefully these tips will help your recovery and make the prospect of that recovery a little less daunting. For more information about bunions, there are a number of bunion recovery blogs that give you personal stories about their experiences, such as tootsie9 or notanotherbunionsurgeryblog. If you think you’re a candidate for bunion surgery or have questions about bunion surgery, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, and Dr. Ryan Minara have helped thousands of people get back on their feet.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.