The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Frequently Asked Questions About Foot Surgery

Posted by on Thursday, May 30th, 2013


Foot surgery causes a lot of anxiety for patients. They fear that they will be unable to get back to their regular routine. They fear pain. They are afraid of doing the wrong thing during their recovery. Part of our job is to soothe jangled nerves and assure patients that they are in good hands. Here are answers to some of the most common questions we field at the office.

Do I need foot surgery?

Surgery is a last resort. Yet, there are many situations in podiatry where it is wholly warranted. For instance, you may have a terribly painful bunion, a diabetic foot ulcer that is infected, a recurring plantar wart, or a physical deformity. In some cases, foot surgery can improve mobility, pain and satisfaction. We will look at more conservative approaches before recommending a surgical procedure.

How long does a foot surgery take to perform?

The average foot or ankle surgery takes about an hour. More complex surgeries to repair trauma or to perform reconstructive surgery may take three to four hours.

Will I be awake for my foot surgery? Does it hurt?

You can expect a little bit of discomfort during a foot surgery. You won’t feel anything during the procedure. We use a local anesthesia for all patients. Some people like mild “twilight” sedation as well, where they’ll feel like they are drifting in and out of sleep. These patients are generally unaware that a surgery is going on and feel totally relaxed. General anesthesia is also available for procedures that require complete relaxation and stillness. The first few days after surgery are when pain may occur, but you will be prescribed medication to lessen or treat that.

Do I have to go to a hospital for surgery?

Foot surgeries can be performed in an outpatient setting. Most foot surgeries do not require hospitalization. You will likely need a chaperone to drive you home after surgery, especially if general or twilight anesthesia has been used. Your surgeon will give you clear instructions for postoperative care, so you can recover rapidly in the comfort of your own home.

What is the recovery time for foot surgery?

Recovery times vary depending on the type of surgery performed. We will discuss this with you before the big day. In most cases, you will need about one or two weeks off work. Yet, in other cases, you may return to work in a protective boot within a few days. We have done smaller surgeries for ingrown toenails, warts or other aberrations where patients have returned to work the following day.

What is worn on the foot afterwards?

Each procedure is different. Some foot surgeries require bandages, while others may need a splint. There are casts, surgical shoes and open-toe sandals. We will recommend the best possible foot support to aid in your recovery. Most patients go back to wearing their regular footwear once they’ve healed, but we may recommend custom orthotics and specialized shoes for some individuals.

Does my health insurance cover surgery?

Every insurance plan is different, but most insurance providers will cover a good portion of a surgery after a deductible is met. We will call your insurance provider beforehand to verify this information and give you an estimate of coverage. We always recommend that patients speak directly with their insurance companies to find out what is or is not covered. Keep in mind that purely cosmetic surgeries are not covered. Please let us know if you have no insurance, so we can help you work out a payment plan if necessary.

How can I recover quicker?

The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) generally recommends the “RICE” method to promote healing, decrease pain and reduce swelling after any surgery. This means: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. It can be difficult to “take it easy,” especially if you are used to being active constantly. Yet, you may also find that a little rest and relaxation isn’t so bad after all. You’ll be able to cram in a little reading, catch up on movies you’ve missed, make a few phone calls, and play a few good old-fashioned board games. If you need more ideas, here are 56 things you can do while recovering from surgery. Be sure to read our blog about foot surgery recovery advice.


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.