Bunion surgery involves removing or realigning the soft tissue and bone in the joint of the big toe, according to WebMD. The surgeon uses a small incision on the top or side of the joint to perform the surgery. Surgeons use over 100 different surgeries for bunions, with the specific type of surgery depending on the patient's condition. In some cases, more than one type of surgical procedure takes place during the bunion surgery.
Bunion surgery is typically an outpatient procedure, notes WebMD. The length of the surgery varies, but it usually lasts one hour or longer. While bunion surgery typically only requires regional anesthesia, a sedative is sometimes used.
Depending on the procedure type and condition, the surgery may involve the placement of screws, plates or wires to correct the problem and hold the bones in position. One type of surgery is a bunionectomy, which involves removing the bulging metatarsal head, explains WebMD. In an osteotomy, the surgeon makes cuts in the bone to move it back into a normal position. Fusing the big toe joint or fusing the joint where the metatarsal connects to the mid-foot is an option. Other patients receive artificial joint implants during the surgeries.
The recovery time ranges from six weeks to six months, states WebMD. Patients usually get stitches during the procedure to secure the incision. The stitches stay in for seven to 21 days. If the procedure involves pins, they usually stay in place for three to six weeks before removal. Other patients may need walking casts, special shoes or splints during the recovery period.