Bunion Surgery: Bunionectomy Procedure & Recovery

A bunion is a painful bump that appears on the side of the big toe, and is caused by a misalignment of the neighboring joint. The condition is usually hereditary, but can be exaggerated or irritated by tight shoes or overuse. Bunions can be removed with a bunionectomy, which realigns the joint to reduce the risk of the bunion returning. One important point – ensure the procedure is performed with the most advanced surgical techniques, as are employed by our team at Heiden Orthopedics.

How Bunions are Formed

Bunions occur where the big toe, or the hallux, joins with the first bone in the foot, called the metatarsal. This joint is also known as a metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint. There are several abnormalities that can cause the big toe to start to migrate toward the second toe. As the big toe is being pulled, the head of the metatarsal bone begins to stick out, resulting in a visible (and painful) protrusion on the side of the foot.

The tendons and ligaments around the joint can either tighten or become stretched, resulting in inflammation and pain. The bursa, or sac around the joint, can also swell and make the bunion even larger and more painful.

Preparing for Your Bunionectomy

There are several different techniques for a bunionectomy, and during your consultation we will evaluate what procedure will be most effective in your individual case. The procedure is typically performed on an outpatient basis, and you will be able to return home the same day.

During the procedure you may under general or local anesthesia. Under general anesthesia, you sleep through the procedure, but local anesthesia with IV sedation will significantly relax you and make the procedure comfortable.

Procedure Steps

During the procedure, your surgeon will access the MTP joint through an incision made on top of the big toe or on the side of the foot. The bump will be removed, but can return if the foot is not corrected. The joint can be realigned by removing a small wedge-shaped piece of the metatarsal bone, held in position with screws, pins, or plates.

Tendons around the bunion may need to be trimmed or repositioned to properly fit around the joint. Any damage in the joint from a previous bunion surgery will also be removed. Once completed, the incisions are closed and your foot is bandaged.

Recovery & Expected Results

Some swelling or pain may occur directly after your procedure, but you can reduce the swelling by keeping your foot elevated for the first few days. You may need to use crutches or a surgical boot s to keep weight off your foot and provide support for faster healing. Your surgeon will likely recommend foot and toe exercises to prevent the area from getting stiff, and will let you know when you can resume your usual activities.

A bunionectomy can realign the joint, decrease pain, and improve the appearance of your foot for the long term, although genetic factors may cause it to return. Let Heiden Orthopedics assist you with a bunionectomy, and any foot joint health issues.


I had a nunionevtomy a year ago, and the screw is starting to protrud e, as seen in x-ray. Can this screw also be what is causing pain in the ball of my foot, as well as in my toes?


    Pain can be due to many factors. With the information provided, I would say yes. Most of the time, removing the screw will take care of the pain. Feel free to come see Dr. Dickerson.


I have flat feel. Over time as the feet became flattened to this point a bunion has formed on both feet which makes the wearing of most shoes painful.
If there a way to resolve this byarch supports instead of surgery. I’m 76 but since my father will be 102 in March I could be living for awhile.
What is your opinion


    Arch supports can help but will not correct the bunion deformity.


I had a bunion remove feburary 2019 the bunion look like about 1 1/2 inches. After having the bunion surgery 5 months later my foot is fine but my foot look like I have a quarter of a bunion still on the side there. My doctor said its will go away because my foot is still a little swollen how can a bone go away.


Thanks for explaining that the surgeon might need to trim or reposition the tendons around the bunion to make sure it fits around the joint properly. My husband’s bunion has gotten painful enough that he’d like to find a foot surgeon to remove it soon. I’m glad I read your article because now I better understand what to expect from the surgery and feel much more prepared to talk to a foot surgeon about it.



The bunion on my right foot is worsening, and I may need to consider surgery. What is the average recovery time and how soon will I be able to return to hiking? Thank you.


    Sorry for the delay in responding to your question. The most common bunion procedure will take 2 months on average to get back to physical activities. Depending on the bunion deformity some procedures require you to be on crutches for 4-6 weeks. X-rays and clinical evaluation would be needed to determine the appropriate treatment.
    Feel free to call the office 801-770-1657

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Jason Dickerson, DPM


Thanks for mentioning that our surgeon will probably recommend exercises for us to do to keep our foot and toes from getting stiff after the procedure. I think I might need to get bunion surgery because I started developing a painful bump at the base of my right big toe about three weeks ago. I appreciate you sharing this info and giving me a better idea of what the surgery and recovery processes will be like!


    Thanks for your feedback! We appreciate it. Best of luck on your possible bunion surgery.


I received bunion surgery on the head of the bone. I’m in a surgical shoe (no boot) and fully weight bearing. I am a student abroad and need to take a 12 hour flight to where my school is. Can I fly at the 5 week post surgery mark?


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