If you see a bony bump near the base of your big toe you may very well have a bunion! Anyone can develop a bunion but Interestingly bunions seem to be more common in women than in men(1), there is a suggestion this may be down to the footwear we wear.
Bunion surgery will correct the foot and remove bunions. A bunion is a bony lump on the side of the foot at the base of the big toe (see figure 1). The most common cause of bunions is footwear that does not have enough width to fit the toes in their natural position. They are occasionally associated with arthritis of the joint at the base of the big toe.
What are the benefits of bunion surgery?
Following bunion surgery your big toe should be straighter, so your foot should fit more comfortably in a normal shoe.
What will happen during my bunion surgery?
When you meet with your consultant surgeon they'll ensure that you have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your bunion surgery, they'll discuss with you what'll happen before, during and after the procedure and any pain you might have. Take this time with your consultant surgeon to ensure your mind is put at rest. We know that having an operation of any type can be stressful so we've created a short downloadable guide that you might find useful to print off and use to write down any questions you may have. Do take this with you to your consultation.
Are there any alternatives to surgery?
The main alternative to bunion surgery is to adapt your shoes so that they fit comfortably.
What does the operation involve?
A variety of anaesthetic techniques are possible. The operation usually takes between half an hour and an hour.
The bunion surgery may involve removing the bunion, releasing or tightening ligaments, cutting and realigning the bones of your big toe and straightening one or more of your smaller toes.
Your surgeon may fix the toes in place with wires or tiny screws.
What complications can happen?
1. General complications of any operation
Infection in the surgical wound
Difficulty passing urine
2. Specific complications of this operation
Damage to nerves around the big-toe joint
Problems with bone healing
Loss of movement in the big toe
Severe pain, stiffness and loss of use of the foot (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome)
Pain in the ball of the foot
How soon will I recover?
You should be able to go home the same day or the day after.
For the first week following bunion surgery you will need to spend most of the time with your leg raised up so that the swelling settles.
Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, you should ask a member of the healthcare team or your GP for advice.
It can take six weeks or longer before the swelling has gone down enough for you to wear a normal soft shoe.
If you have a bunion that is causing pressure and pain, surgery should straighten your big toe and make your foot fit more comfortably into a normal shoe.
This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.
Paying for your operation
Bunion surgery costs are covered by most medical insurance policies, but please check with your insurer first. If you are paying for your own treatment the cost of the operation will be explained and confirmed in writing when you book the operation. Ask the hospital for a quote beforehand, and ensure that this includes the surgeon’s fee, the anaesthetist’s fee and the hospital charge for your procedure.