Recovering from bunion and forefoot surgery

This information is provided so that you can become better informed about the process of having bunion surgery and forefoot surgery. Remember, your actual surgery may be slightly different, and your body and your personal circumstances will dictate the speed and comfort of your recovery to a large degree. Use this information is a guide only. Your mileage may vary!

What happens immediately following surgery

Immediately following surgery, you will be cared for in our day surgery facility. The nurse will assist you, and a physical therapist may work with you to make sure that you can mobilize yourself safely. Your foot will be fitted with a postoperative shoe. There will be a bulky dressing around the foot, which usually stays on until the first doctor's visit. You will be given crutches or a walker if you need them. You will need a friend to drive you home.

For your comfort

You'll be given prescriptions for strong pain medicines to maintain your comfort during the first few days when the pain is the worst. Please see this page for more details about our pain management program.

Returning to activities and to driving

We recommend that you avoid making any big plans for the first one or two weeks following your surgery. You need this time to rest and prop your foot up. Patients who have surgery on the left foot may begin driving as soon as they feel comfortable doing so, but they should not drive while using narcotic pain medicines. Patient to have surgery on the right foot should not drive until given clearance by the doctor.

Putting weight on the foot

You'll be able to walk on the foot right away, putting your weight on the heel area only. It is vitally important that you comply with these instructions. After six weeks, if the healing of the bone is satisfactory, you will be able to put your weight on the front of the foot.

Returning to work

You may be able to return to work as soon as three days after surgery, or you may need to wait as long as eight weeks. The ability to return to work is dictated by your job, your driving, and your work duties, not so much by the surgery. Once you are comfortable walking on the heel of your foot, and you do not need to take strong pain medicines during the day, you should be able to return to work. In most cases this is about two weeks. If you have questions about your particular return to work requirements, contact us.

Getting back to normal shoes can take months

Surgery for bunions and related foot problems is a relatively short outpatient surgical procedure, but the whole process of recovery takes time. Walking normally in comfortable shoes can be expected between three and six months after the surgery. It may take one full year for some tenderness and slight swelling of the foot to be completely gone. Once full recovery has occurred, you should be able to wear any reasonable shoes.