Time is a precious commodity. No one wants to spend weeks off their feet, restrained to their bed. And few individuals can afford to miss work for months at a time because of a surgical procedure. As such, it’s no wonder that many people delay or cancel plans to have traditional bunion surgery –– even if they really need it. After all, traditional bunion surgery can cause some extended recovery periods. Thankfully, there are other options available to people struggling with bunions. Here, we’ll explain several different bunionectomy procedures, and outline common timelines for “normal” bunion surgery recovery time off work:

Bunion Severity

There are two big factors that may influence how long bunion surgery recovery will take: the severity of the bunion in question and the method of surgery employed.

First, let’s look at the severity of the bunion. As one might imagine, the larger and more obtrusive the bunion, the more damage it can cause. Note here that it’s crucial to identify bunions early on in their development. Once bunions reach a certain size, surgery is the only way to reduce/remove them. What’s more, bunions don’t ever get smaller with time. Rather, just the opposite is true. And it’s possible for someone to develop bunions on both of their feet as well, which can also have an impact on recovery time. Taking care of your feet, monitoring foot health, and wearing comfortable shoes are essential practices for individuals who may be susceptible to developing bunions anyway.

Type of Surgery

There are actually dozens of slight variations on bunion surgery that a surgeon may recommend for a patient. For simplicity’s sake, however, it’s easy to separate all of these variations into two distinct categories: traditional bunion surgery and minimally invasive bunion surgery.

Traditional bunion surgery –– or open foot surgery –– requires the surgeon to make a large incision along the foot in order to remove the bunion. Depending on the damage caused by the bunion, the surgeon may then have to use metal screws or pins to realign the foot and hold it together. As one can imagine, this is a painful process that can produce heavy scarring.

Individuals who undergo traditional bunion surgery can first expect to take several days off for the surgery and the subsequent hospital stay. Then, for the next two weeks, they’ll be unable to walk or get off their feet. Finally, they will likely have to wear a cast or use crutches for the following several months. All told, individuals may need six months –– or longer –– to fully recover from traditional bunion surgery. Even then, they still may experience some residual pain and/or scarring.

By contrast, minimally invasive surgery is much more patient-friendly. Instead of cutting the entire foot open, surgeons who use minimally invasive techniques only need to make several very small incisions to remove a bunion. This reduces collateral foot damage and scarring.

Minimally invasive surgery is an outpatient procedure, and most of our patients are able to walk out of the operating room under their own volition and drive home after the procedure. Following the surgery, patients may need to wear a postoperative shoe for 1-5 weeks, but they may also resume normal daily practices like walking around and other light activities almost immediately.

Type of Profession

Individuals who have a desk job can expect to return to work right away after minimally invasive bunion surgery. On the other hand, laborers who are required to perform more strenuous activity for their profession may need to take a few weeks off to allow their foot to heal. Laborers who elect for a traditional surgery may miss months of work.

Contact Us

At Northwest Surgery Center, it’s our mission to provide foot-pain relief to those in need. We only use the most innovative, minimally invasive techniques to ensure positive outcomes for our patients. Contact us here to learn more or to schedule a consultation today!

infographic describing the recovery time off work after bunion surgery