FAQs About Bunionectomies (And A Few About Bunions, In General)

Bunions occur when the joint between the big toe and the forefoot begins to distort and develop calcified, bony tissue on the outside surface. This causes the big toe to look like it is turned inward, and the foot itself to look like it has a big bump on its side. Bunions are common, but not all cases are severe. The most severe cases generally need to be operated upon in order to keep the patient comfortable and able to walk appropriately. If you or someone close to you has bunions, here are a few key questions you might have about bunionectomies and related care.

How do you know whether you need surgery for your bunions?

If your bunions are not causing you pain, then you do not need surgery. If your bunions are causing you pain but you can basically get rid of it by wearing the right shoes, wearing a split, or doing some stretches, then you also don't need surgery. Doctors usually only recommend a bunionectomy for patients whose bunions are actively causing problems in their lives — and when those problems can no longer be managed by non-invasive means.

What happens during a bunionectomy?

The main thing that doctors do during a bunionectomy is shave down the bone. They remove that extra, calcified bony tissue that is forming the bump on the outside of the foot. With this gone, they can then realign your toe joint so your big toe moves back into a more ordinary position. Sometimes, depending on the severity of your bunions, they may also have to shorten or repair a few ligaments in your big toe.

Can this surgery be done arthroscopically?

No, this is one of few orthopedic surgeries that cannot typically be done arthroscopically and needs to be done through larger, standard incisions. Quite a large incision is needed to fully access the big toe joint and excess bony tissue.

Can bunions grow back after surgery?

They technically can, but they rarely do. Your doctor will give you a splint to wear post-surgery and may even advise you to wear specific shoes. These measures can help prevent bunions from coming back, or at least, they can prevent them from getting too bad if they do start to re-form. 

If you think you might need a bunionectomy, schedule a consultation with a foot surgeon. This procedure isn't the simplest, but it is common and usually has good results.

For more information, contact a company like MD Surgical Center.