Bunionectomy: Before Your Surgery

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What is a bunionectomy?

A foot with a bunion at the MTP joint

A bunionectomy is surgery to remove a lump of bone from your foot. This lump is called a bunion. It forms on the joint where your big toe joins your foot. The surgery will also straighten your big toe. Your doctor will make one or more small cuts near your toe joint. These cuts are called incisions. The doctor will remove small pieces of bone and may straighten your toe. This is done by cutting the bone and setting it in a new position. Your toe may be held in place with pins, screws, wires, or staples. These may stay in your toe. Or they may be removed after about 4 weeks. The surgery will leave scars that fade with time.

The surgery may make walking easier. It may reduce stiffness, pain, or swelling in your toe joint. It may also improve the way your toe looks.

Your doctor will give you medicine to help you relax and to numb your foot. Or you may get medicine to put you to sleep.

You will probably go home on the day of your surgery. If your surgery is more complex, you may need to spend the night in the hospital.

How soon you can put weight on your toe depends on how complex your surgery is. It may take 6 weeks or longer before swelling goes down and you have healed enough to return to your normal routine. You may have some swelling and pain for as long as 6 months to a year.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

What happens before surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you understand what you can expect. And it will help you safely prepare for surgery.

Preparing for surgery

  • Understand exactly what surgery is planned, along with the risks, benefits, and other options.
  • Tell your doctors ALL the medicines, including natural health products, such as vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some of these can increase the risk of bleeding or interact with anesthesia.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if you should stop taking these medicines before your surgery. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Your doctor will tell you which medicines to take or stop before your surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medicines a week or more before surgery. So talk to your doctor as soon as you can.
  • If you have an advance care plan, let your doctor know. If you don't have one, you may want to prepare one. It lets your doctor and loved ones know your health care wishes. Doctors advise that everyone prepare these papers before any type of surgery or procedure.

What happens on the day of surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be cancelled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Wear clothing that is easy to put on and take off. You may have a large bandage on your foot.
  • Take off all jewellery and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery centre

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery will usually take about 1 to 1½ hours. If you are having both feet done at once, it may take 2 to 3 hours.

Going home

  • Be sure you have someone to drive you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine make it unsafe for you to drive.
  • You will be given more specific instructions about recovering from your surgery. They will cover things like diet, wound care, follow-up care, driving, and getting back to your normal routine.

When should you call your doctor?

  • You have questions or concerns.
  • You don't understand how to prepare for your surgery.
  • You become ill before the surgery (such as fever, flu, or a cold).
  • You need to reschedule or have changed your mind about having the surgery.

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

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Current as of: May 23, 2016