Bunionectomy Summary

A bunionectomy is a procedure that excises or removes bunions. Bunions form between the joint at the base of the big toe. They occur as a result of inflammation that is typically caused by shoes that are too tight or fit poorly, combined with the joint being overly mobile.

When these two factors combine a lump develops on the side of the joint. Overtime, this causes the big toe to push towards the second toe. This may also lead to new bone growth or a bone spur. The bunion is made up of soft tissue, and sometimes a bone spur.

You may consider a bunionectomy if:

  • Conservative treatment has failed to correct the problem
  • Your bunion has caused a foot deformity
  • Intense pain has led to difficulty walking or performing other activities
  • Your bunion has caused you to become unstable when walking

Length of the procedure: 1 hour.

Hospital Stay: Depending on the method of surgery used and the severity of your problem you will be hospitalized for a maximum of 24 hours following the procedure, if at all.

Recovery before traveling home: Patients seeking a bunionectomy through medical tourism can return home within 24 to 48 hours in most cases.

Procedure Details

Your surgery will begin with the administration of anesthesia. Depending on what type of surgical method your doctor has chosen you will be given an ankle block, general anesthesia or a spinal block. Then, the area will be prepped with an antiseptic liquid.

During the surgery an incision will be made directly on the swollen area of your foot. The surgeon will remove the lump. They may also need to reposition the big toe. If this is necessary another incision may be required. If damage to the joint is present the surgeon may attach the bones of the foot with screws, wires or a metal plate. In some cases the joint may need to be replaced with an artificial joint.

After the Procedure

After the procedure your incisions will be closed with sutures or tape. The surgical wound will be wrapped in a compression dressing. The compression dressing will help maintain proper alignment of the bones and reduce swelling.

After the anesthesia has worn off in most cases you will be released from care. You will need to elevate your foot for at least 24 hours following the procedure. It will be at least 6 to 8 weeks before you can return to normal activity. Your surgeon may require you to wear a special orthopedic shoe or boot during this time. These orthopedic devices will help accommodate healing and provide you stability during the healing process.


About 85% to 95% of patients consider their bunionectomy procedure successful. However, results depend largely upon a number of factors including age, severity of deformity, and the patients adherence to their surgical recovery instructions. Many patients also use orthotics after they heal from the procedure to keep their feet properly aligned and to prevent another bunion from forming.

Risks and Complications

As is with any surgery there are certain risks associated with a bunionectomy procedure. However, it is important to note that complications arise in less than 10% of bunionectomy patients. The following is a list of the most common risks and complications:

  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Nerve damage
  • Reoccurring bunion
  • Arterial damage
  • Reaction to anesthesia

Any concerns you have regarding these risks before or after the procedure should be discussed with your surgeon promptly.

Contact your physician if:
  • Fever of 100.5 or above occurs and is uncontrolled by Tylenol or ibuprofen
  • You have chills
  • Pain is constant or increases
  • There is redness of warmth in the surgical area
  • Swelling develops in the calf
  • Water or moisture causes the surgical dressing to come off
  • The surgical dressing becomes bloody