Be Prepared for
Bunion Surgery Recovery
A major concern of everyone who has foot surgery to remove bunions is how long it will be before they can walk normally and get on with their usual activities. You should expect that bunion surgery recovery is going to take at least 4 – 6 weeks.
As with all surgery, how quickly your life goes back to normal will depend on how carefully you follow the doctor’s instructions in the immediate aftermath of your bunion surgery. This can sometimes be a challenge, just because we are naturally anxious to get back our sense of control over our lives. But recovery from bunion surgery can actually take up to several months if you are not careful. Under those circumstances, any sense of control will be out the window!
The first 3 – 4 days after surgery are critical. Your concern during this period is to keep down the swelling as much as possible. Your entire bunion surgery recovery process will be affected by the degree of foot swelling after surgery. Keep your foot elevated above your waist, and apply ice packs about 4 times a day. No matter how tedious this routine may seem to you, it’s nothing compared to months and months of misery. so, be diligent about elevating your foot and applying ice. These are the two most important things to do to keep down the swelling and thus prevent your bunion surgery recovery from dragging out too long.
The dressing on your foot must be kept dry (you will have to put a plastic bag over your foot to shower) and will not be changed until you go back to your doctor for your first post-operative appointment, which will be after about 3 days. Stitches will not be removed until 1 – 3 weeks after the surgery.
As for walking, you want to put as little weight on the foot as possible in the beginning. Remember, during those first few days you are supposed to be sitting with your foot elevated at every possible opportunity (get yourself a stack of good books or movies), but when you have to walk, you will probably be advised to use crutches or a walker. In addition, you may have been given a special surgical shoe to wear when you do have to walk.
However, you should really arrange things so that you are on your feet as little as possible for the first two weeks. Stairs are certainly to be avoided. If your bedroom is upstairs, make sure you change things around in your house before your surgery so you can sleep and rest downstairs.
Even if you you start to feel fine sooner than expected, resist the urge to start walking before you are supposed to. Don’t push yourself! It just isn’t worth the risk of increased swelling. This is often a hard part for anyone who has undergone surgery of any kind. We think we are doing good and feeling okay, but our body really hasn’t had the time for healing it needs. It’s natural to want to get going again and do the things we always did before, but that eagerness gets people into trouble. Prepare yourself mentally to take it extra easy and give yourself plenty of time for complete healing.
How soon you will be able to walk normally and for normal distances will depend on the extent of your foot surgery and on your success with keeping the swelling down. Of course, be sure to closely follow any other directions from your doctor for optimal bunion surgery recovery.