Risks of bunion surgery include infection in the foot's bones or soft tissue, a return of the bunion, distortion in the toe, tendon damage and restricted movement in the toe. Persistent inflammation and pain and degenerative joint disease are additional risks, notes WebMD.
In general, bunion surgery involves making an incision into the side or top of the joint of the big toe and either realigning or removing bone or soft tissue inside to return the toe to normal alignment and to alleviate pain. After the surgery, the doctor may leave plates, screws or wires inside to keep the bones in place. Bunion surgery may not relieve pain completely, as stated by WebMD.
Over 100 different types of bunion surgery exist, depending on the nature and location of the bunion. Some surgeries involve taking out part of the metatarsal head (the portion of the foot that protrudes outward). Another type involves realigning ligaments that surround the big toe joint. Yet another involves cutting into the bones and moving them into a normal alignment. Fusion of the big toe joint or the joint where the mid-foot and the metatarsal meet is a different type as well. In any case, recovery takes between six weeks and six months, while complete healing can take up to a year, according to WebMD.
There is no guarantee that bunions do not come back after surgery, particularly if the patient wears high-heeled or narrow shoes. A surgeon with experience with many different types of bunions is more likely to be qualified to perform a new patient's surgery. Even successful bunion surgery can reduce the flexibility of the big toe, states WebMD.