Planning your bunion surgery is important and knowing the postoperative period may be the deciding factor if and when you want to have foot surgery. With traditional surgical techniques, bunion surgery has a negative reputation, which claims that it is one of the most painful surgeries. Let me be amongst the first to tell you that it doesn’t need to be that way!
I tell every patient that you should have your bunion fixed BEFORE it hurts or BEFORE it starts affecting the other toes. For example, if your second toe (next to the big toe) starts hammering, lifting up or changing the way that it looks. If you wait too long to have your bunion fixed there are ramifications. Some include:
1. The bunion starts messing up other toes then you will want/need to get those fixed.
2. The bunion is a form of arthritis and the longer that you wait to fix it the more cartilage can wear away. The joint is like a car tire, if it is off alignment it starts to wear more on one side and that can cause irreparable damage.
3. If you wait too long to fix your bunion, it may limit how good of a surgical result you have. It also may dictate a larger, more complicated procedure that results in a longer recovery or one that may not be able to be fixed by minimally invasive bunion surgery.
4. Why live in pain if you don’t have to?
After minimally invasive bunion surgery, how long does it take for the bone to fully heal?
How long does it take for the bone to fully heal?
It takes about three months for the bone to fully heal. Luckily, you don’t have to wait that long to use your feet!
Here in Wisconsin, Aaron Rogers is a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. He has broken both his left and his right collarbone. One he had surgically repaired, the other he did not, but both times he broke it he did not need to wait twelve weeks to return back to the field. Although, three months is about the time before you are able to run full speed or push your new bunionless foot, so keep that into consideration.
Will you have to take three months off after bunion surgery?
I suppose if you are a professional athlete. Luckily, most people do not fully rely on their feet for their job. You need to consider your occupation. There are so many jobs, restrictions and levels of activity it can be tough to decide how fixing your bunion will affect your job, family, and YOURSELF!
The bunion surgeries that take the longest recovery, with the longest period of non-weigh bearing in a cast are traditional bunion surgeries – typically ones that involve fusing a joint, like a Lapidus bunionectomy or a MPJ fusion.
Also, procedures that are unstable like an opening or closing base wedge osteotomy. All of these procedures require a lot of hardware – screws, plates and wires. This can be very painful and can get very expensive. That said, they do have their place and are sometimes a better option for patients that wait too long to have their bunions fixed or have really large bunions.
I would say that the average time off of your feet after these procedures is six weeks, and then protected weight bearing for an additional six weeks after that in a walking boot. The recovery is long because the screws need time to heal into the bone, so the bone heals correctly. If you do too much, then the bones can shift and heal incorrectly, which can require an additional surgery with bone grafts that are taken from your hip, leg or heel bone.
But don’t worry, not all bunions are this severe!
What if my bunions aren’t as severe?
Minimally invasive bunion surgery can be as simple as shaving the bump off of your bunion. This normally has a one-week recovery!
You are not waiting for the bones to heal, but rather just the small skin incision. A lot of times, in addition to shaving the bump off of the bone, I create a small fracture in the the two bones that make up your bunion. When we make these small fractures in the bone, we can realign the joint or shift the bones into a better position, which gets rid of your bunion. Because we don’t filet open your skin and expose the entire bone we are able to use your body’s natural tissues to help keep everything stable and in alignment.
We then use a soft cast to keep things stable for up to four weeks. It is important to take it easy after the first four weeks of bunion surgery. We suggest you ice and elevate your foot and allow time to let your body get used to your new foot. Luckily, you can maintain most upper body workouts and can stay active on a recumbent bike or the elliptical machine a week or two after surgery.
At the four-week mark, we normally take an x-ray and our patients are in a tennis shoe or some other roomy, stable shoe for two to four weeks until they can start wearing shoes without barring any swelling.
Our patients walk out of the operating room as soon as I apply the postoperative bandage. You may even be able to drive yourself home if you want to because we put a bandage on your foot, but you will need to wear a post-operative shoe until we remove it.
Luckily, the shoe does not go up your leg or even up your ankle. You can walk much more comfortably, maneuver easily up the stairs and even drive and go to the gym! There is no long-term period of laying around, needing crutches, walkers, scooters or a big boot. There is no need for screws, plates and wires to heal into the bone and no large incisions to look at for the rest of your life!
Is it time for you to fix your bunion? Give us a call today and come check it out!