Bunionectomy is a procedure in which a surgeon makes a few, small incisions into foot bones, then uses screws or pins to realign the big toe joint to alleviate pain and improve function.
At A Glance: Bunionectomy
Also Known As
Typical Recovery Time
Six to 12 Weeks
Typical Price Range
Tell Me About The Surgery
Procedure Research and Consultation
How is a bunionectomy done?
For most bunion surgeries, a surgeon makes an incision along the big toe joint and repositions the big toe. The surgeon may also realign the tendons and ligaments around the joint.
What issue does a bunionectomy solve?
A bunionectomy should alleviate pain and correct functional issues to help you walk more easily.
What is minimally invasive surgery?
A procedure in which a surgeon uses a smaller incision and a less-invasive technique, shortening recovery time.
Do I have options for anesthesia for bunionectomy surgery?
Local or regional anesthesia is most common for this procedure, but general anesthesia is occasionally used. Typically, surgeons use a technique called ankle block anesthesia, in which your foot is numb, but you are awake.
How do I know bunion surgery is right for me?
You might be a good candidate for bunion surgery if your big toe drifts toward the smaller toes, you experience pain that interferes with daily activities, or you have swelling and inflammation in your big toe that doesn’t go away with rest, medication, or a change in footwear.
How safe is a bunionectomy?
In general, severe complications from bunion surgery are rare. You should also know that Hancock Regional Hospital has been rated one of the safest hospitals in America by The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit health care watchdog organization; and was named the safest hospital in Indiana on the Lown Institute Hospital Index.
What are possible side effects and complications of bunion surgery?
As with any surgery, complications can happen. Some possible complications from a bunionectomy are stiffness, numbness, swelling, infection of the incision, and a bunion recurrence.
What are the possible side effects of general anesthesia?
Some of the possible side effects include nausea and vomiting, dry mouth, sore throat, muscle aches, headache, bruising (from the IV), itching, shivering and feeling cold, difficulty urinating, and sleepiness. In older patients, memory loss and temporary confusion are possible.
What are the alternatives to bunion surgery?
Before deciding on a surgical solution to your bunion problems, you might want to consider the alternatives. They include changing footwear, using orthotic devices, exercises to maintain joint mobility and prevent stiffness or arthritis, and wearing a splint while you sleep.
What are the risks of not having bunion surgery?
If your doctor suggests bunion surgery and you don’t have it, pain from the bunion could continue, affecting your ability to walk and maintain your balance. That will impact your overall health, making your bunion problem worse. And the longer you wait the more your bunion is likely to worsen.
What kind of outcome is typical for bunion surgery?
A bunion surgery should alleviate pain and restore function to enable you to walk more easily.
Consultation and Choosing A Surgeon or Surgical Team
Do I need a referral to see a surgeon about bunionectomy surgery?
Your health insurance provider may require you to get a referral from your primary care provider to see a surgeon about a bunionectomy.
What should I bring to my first appointment with a surgeon to talk about bunion surgery?
Insurance information Medical records, including your medical history, from your primary care physicianYour most recent labs and imaging (Not sure where to go? Check out Gateway Hancock Health, where you’ll be able to get in and out quickly and pay, on average, 70% less than you’ll pay at a hospital.)
Do I have to get a second or third opinion for bunionectomy surgery?
You can always get a second or third opinion, but it isn’t required.
How should I decide which surgeon’s advice to follow?
You should work with the surgeon with whom you feel comfortable, whether that’s one of our surgeons or not.
Will the surgical team know my health history?
Your health history will be compiled and available to the team before, during, and after surgery. If you’re a Hancock Health patient, we will be able to access your records within our system. If you aren’t, we will work with your doctors to get the necessary information.
Why might I have to wait to schedule bunion surgery?
In some cases, it takes time for a patient’s body to be ready for surgery. For example, if you have another medical issue including another surgical procedure or an illness, we might wait to schedule surgery. Your health and safety are our top priorities, so we schedule surgeries when they’re best for our patients.
What happens if my symptoms get worse while I wait for bunion surgery?
Your surgical team will evaluate the situation and help you make a choice that’s right for you and your health. Temporary treatments might be used if your surgery is rescheduled.
Insurance & Cost
How much does bunion surgery cost?
Consult the Price Transparency Tool at HancockRegionalHospital.org for an idea of how much a bunionectomy might cost.
Will insurance cover bunion surgery?
In most cases, insurance will cover most of the costs associated with bunion surgery. To obtain an estimate of your possible out-of-pocket expenses, use our Price Estimator Tool.
Will Medicare cover bunion surgery?
Medicare parts A and B will cover the cost of bunion surgery, but it’s important for your doctor to indicate that the surgery is medically necessary.
What are payment options like for bunion surgery at Hancock Health?
Hancock Health is committed to helping make great care affordable for all patients. To find out more about payment options, please visit the billing and insurance FAQ page at HancockRegionalHospital.org.
Pre-op and Day of Surgery
How should I prepare for this bunion surgery?
You’ll probably be instructed not to eat anything after midnight on the day of your surgery, and you might also be told to stop taking certain medications or dietary supplements.
Why can’t I eat before surgery?
There’s a risk of aspiration, which means breathing foreign objects, like food or saliva, into your lungs. This can occur because the anesthetic for surgery can impair your body’s ability to stop the contents of your stomach from entering your lungs.
What should I expect right before bunion surgery?
You’ll arrive several hours before your surgery and be escorted to the preoperative waiting area.You’ll remove all of your clothing and jewelry, and put on a hospital gown. (Your valuables will be placed in a secure area or may be given to a family member.) You’ll sign any necessary paperwork and a preoperative nurse will take your vital signs, review your medications, and answer any questions.You’ll meet your anesthesiologist and the members of your surgery team. They will mark the location of your surgery on your body. An I.V. (intravenous line) will be placed in your hand or arm, so medications—including general anesthesia—can be administered. If you’re using a different kind of anesthesia, you’ll receive an injection.When it’s time for your surgery, you will be wheeled into the operating suite on a stretcher.
Will I need someone to take me home after bunion surgery?
For your safety and the safety of other motorists, you will need someone to drive you home. If you don’t have a ride, we’ll help you arrange one.
Why are there so many people on my surgery team?
In addition to the surgeon, you have an anesthesiologist, nurses—some of them specialize in working with patients and others assist the surgeon—and support staff, who get you checked in and out, compile your records, and more. They all work together, performing their individual jobs, so the procedure is as successful as possible.
Why am I asked for my name and date of birth every time I get medicine?
It’s a safety precaution to make sure you’re receiving the medication that’s prescribed for you.
What do I need to bring to the hospital the day of my bunion surgery?
Anything you’ll need for an overnight stay, including a change of underwear, a sweatshirt, glasses or contacts, headphones, and your medications. Most bunion surgery is outpatient, but it’s a good idea to be prepared.
How long does it take the anesthesia to wear off?
It takes about an hour for general anesthesia to wear off, but you may notice the effects for a day or so. It usually takes 30 minutes to an hour for local anesthesia to wear off, though the effects can last a few hours.
What will happen during bunion surgery?
You’ll breathe oxygen through a mask and our team will track your vital signs as the surgery is performed.
When will my family be informed about how I’m doing?
Our associates will get information from the surgical team in the operating room during your surgery and keep them updated.
How long will the bunion surgery take?
Bunion surgery typically takes between 45 minutes and three hours.
How long will I be under for bunion surgery?
Bunion surgery is typically conducted under local or regional anesthetic, so you will be awake and alert throughout. Though your foot will be numb, so you won’t feel the procedure.
How long will I be in the hospital after bunion surgery?
While the length of a hospital stay depends on each patient’s individual needs, patients typically leave on the same day as their surgery.
What can I expect right after bunion surgery?
After surgery, you’ll be escorted to the recovery room. As you start to regain feeling in your foot, you’ll receive pain medication. After leaving the recovery room, you’ll be taken to your hospital room where you will be able to see friends or family who came with you.
How will I know if bunion surgery worked?
Your surgeon will discuss your procedure with you. It can take up to three months for people who have bunion surgery to return to most of their normal activities.
When will I get to talk to my surgeon after surgery?
You’ll be able to talk to your surgeon immediately after your procedure, while you’re in the recovery room.
How soon after bunion surgery will I be up and moving around?
Within 24 hours of the procedure, you’ll likely be asked to stand up and walk with the help of medical staff. Follow your team’s instructions regarding the use of your foot during the first few weeks after surgery.
Will I receive pain medication right after bunion surgery?
In most cases, patients receive pain medication immediately following surgery.
How soon after bunionectomy surgery can I eat or drink?
You may not be able to eat or drink right away and you may be asked to follow a clear fluid diet for one to three days. After that, you may return to solid foods—but easy-to-digest items, including soups, pudding, and yogurt, are recommended.
Will I need to fill any prescriptions or take medication after bunion surgery?
You may be prescribed pain medication, anticoagulants, or other symptom-reducing medications.
Recovery and Follow-Up
What will I need to do to prepare for my recovery from bunion surgery?
Make sure you’ll have help with everyday tasks, such as cooking, showering, and doing laundry. If you live alone, our associates can help you find a temporary caretaker.
How should I prepare to recover from bunion surgery at home?
Avoid putting weight on your big toe.Elevate your foot to reduce swelling.Keep your wound and bandages dry. Take pain medication as directed by your doctor.
If I need physical therapy or rehabilitation after bunion surgery, how is that arranged?
Our associates will help you arrange the postoperative care you’ll need.
Will I need any follow-up appointments or procedures after bunion surgery?
You’ll have an appointment with your surgeon about two weeks after your surgery. Your outpatient physical therapy sessions will begin almost immediately following your surgery. You’ll also schedule another appointment to check in with your surgeon about a year after your procedure.
Will there be any scarring or stitches to remove after bunion surgery?
Your stitches or staples will likely be removed during your first postoperative appointment with your surgeon, about two weeks after surgery. There will be a scar where the incision was made on your toe.
What do I need to have to care for any wounds or incisions?
You’ll need fresh dressings but you won’t need antibiotic ointment, as putting it on the area is unnecessary.
How do I care for my incision at home?
Change your dressing daily, starting two days after you leave the hospital. Don’t scrub the incision area.If you have steri-strips over your incision, they will fall off on their own within about two weeks.You may remove your dressing and shower two days after your surgery if there is no drainage from your incision. Carefully pat the incision dry after your shower and reapply the dressing.For about two weeks, don’t submerge your incision in water by taking a bath or getting in a pool or hot tub. When the incisions are completely healed, feel free to resume those activities.
What should I do if I have an emergency or accident after bunion surgery?
If you fall, injure your foot after surgery, or have another kind of emergency, call your surgeon’s office. If you’re in need of immediate emergency services, go to the nearest emergency room.
When will I be able to get back to work after bunion surgery?
If you have a desk job, you can probably return a few days after your procedure. If your job requires more physical movement, it could take longer.
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