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Bunion surgery

What is a bunion?

A bunion is a bony lump on your foot. Bunions don’t always cause symptoms but can get worse over time. They can be painful, especially when you’re walking or wearing shoes. The main symptoms of bunions include: 

  • Hard lumps on the side of your feet, by your big toe 
  • Your big toe pointing toward other toes 
  • Hard, swollen skin. The bunion itself may look red or darker than the surrounding skin. 

Though the symptoms of bunions can be alleviated with non-surgical treatments, surgery is the only way to completely remove a bunion. Surgery is often recommended if nothing else eases your pain, if you can’t buy shoes that fit correctly or if the bunion is affecting your daily life. 

Ready to book now? Get in touch to discuss your needs and decide on the best course of treatment for you.

Ready to book now? Get in touch to discuss your needs and decide on the best course of treatment for you.

What happens during bunion surgery?

Bunion surgery can remove or straighten the bone to ease your pain.  

The most common operation for bunions is metatarsal osteotomy. This involves: 

  1. Making a small cut in the skin over the big toe, or using keyhole surgery to reach the bunion through several smaller cuts 
  2. Cutting or scraping away the bunion 
  3. Straightening the toe bone 
  4. Fixing the toe bone in place with metal screws, staples or wire. These are usually left in permanently but may be removed at a later date. 

Surgery can be done under local or general anaesthetic and is typically an outpatient procedure. This means that you can go home a few hours after the operation and after general anaesthesia has worn off. 

Preparing for bunion surgery

Your surgeon will give you simple preparation advice to help you get ready for your operation. If having general anaesthetic, you will undergo a few medical checks prior to your surgery date.

You may be advised to stop taking medications a few days before surgery, particularly if you take aspirin or other blood-thinning drugs. If you smoke, you may be advised to stop. This is because smoking increases your chances of getting a wound infection, which can slow down your recovery after surgery.

It is advised that you prepare your home and living arrangements for your return from hospital. It may be challenging to move around at first after surgery, particularly if you are using crutches. You may need to rearrange furniture, for example moving your bed downstairs, and moving other items so you can reach them easily. You may also need some extra help around the house too, so see if a friend or family member can stay with you to support.

What are the alternatives to bunion surgery

If you have a bunion, your doctor may recommend other treatments before you resort to surgery. These include: 

  • Medicines such as paracetamol and ibuprofen to ease pain and swelling 
  • Wearing bunion pads to ease pressure on the lump 
  • Wearing insoles or orthotic supports in your shoes 
  • Wearing splints at night to hold toes straight 
  • Wearing different shoes, or stretching shoes to accommodate the bunion. 

Bunions often get worse over time. Therefore, if the above treatments are not alleviating your symptoms, you may be referred for surgery.

What happens after bunion surgery

After your surgery, you’ll need to rest until the anaesthetic has worn off. You may need to take some pain relief. 

You may be asked to wear compression stockings or socks to promote healthy blood flow. You may also need to have an injection of an anti-clotting medicine (or tablets) as well. 

Your foot will be bandaged after the operation and you may have a cast. You will usually be provided with some crutches and a special shoe to wear. You’ll also be given advice on how much –if any – weight you can put on that foot. 

You’ll usually be able to go home when you feel ready. This may be about an hour or two after your operation. You may be given a date for a follow-up appointment before you leave. 

If you’ve had a general anaesthetic, ask a friend or relative to take you home. Also ask them to stay with you for a day or two while the anaesthetic wears off. 

Recovering from bunion surgery

You may experience some discomfort in the following few days and weeks after your operation. If you need pain relief, you can take over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.  

To promote speedy and healthy wound healing you should keep your dressing and cast dry. It is recommended that you put a plastic bag over your foot when you have a shower.  

You’ll probably be able to put weight the unaffected foot straight away. However, it’s important to rest with your feet up as much as possible in the first few weeks to help reduce any swelling. 

You may need to wear a cast for four to eight weeks. After this time, you may need to wear a removable boot or walking cast to start putting weight on your recovering foot. You’ll usually need to use crutches to help you get around. 

You should be able to drive again once you are able to do an emergency stop safely and wear normal shoes. However, you should discuss this with your surgeon first. 

How quickly you can return to work will depend on the type of role you have. If you have an active role, involving lots of walking or lifting, you may need to book a few weeks off work. If you have a seated desk-based job and work from home, you may be able to return to work as soon as you feel able to.  

Complications and side effects

Side-effects after bunion surgery may include: 

  • A sore foot, particularly the affected toe 
  • Pain under the ball of the foot 
  • Swelling of your foot 
  • A stiff toe 
  • A numb toe, sometimes due to a damaged nerve 
  • An infection, for which you may need antibiotics 
  • Weakness of your leg, particularly if you are wearing a cast for a prolonged period. 

It may take six months to a year for the swelling to completely go down. 

Contact your hospital or GP if you have: 

  • A high temperature 
  • Worsening pain or pain that doesn’t stop when you take painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen 
  • Redness around your dressing or if it feels warm 
  • Swelling or pain in your calf muscle of your leg 
  • Discharge from your wound. 


Please call us to discuss pricing at your local clinic.

  • Bunion surgery £4,419.00


It is possible to have surgery to treat bunions on both feet at the same time, though this is not recommended, as you won’t be able to walk on either foot afterwards. 

Bunions usually get worse over time. Ignoring a bunion can lead to serious complications. Without bunion treatment, bunions can continue to grow. Through time, they will push your big toe inward, towards the neighbouring toe, causing discomfort. They can also can grow so large that is painful to wear shoes. 

Immediately after your operation, you will be unable to walk on the affected foot. You will likely be using crutches and your unaffected foot will be supporting you more than previously. Your surgeon will advise you on which footwear will support your recovery and when you can transition back to your everyday footwear. 

Recovery times differ from person to person. You may be able to walk on both feet again after around eight weeks, or you may need to wear a walking cast or removable boot for some time. It can take three to four months until you can walk well enough to resume your normal activities and plan sport.  

It may take six months to a year for the swelling to completely go down. 

Ways to pay

Paying for yourself

Healthshare provides access to the highest quality care giving you the opportunity to access the very best treatment, facilities and consultants. Healthcare the way you want it, when you need it.

Spread the cost

A fixed term loan, provided by our partners Chrysalis Finance, will allow you to spread the cost of treatment and allow you to pay in monthly instalments over a time period to suit you.

Medical insurance

If you have private medical insurance you can get referred to a Healthshare Clinic for the very best treatment. Contact your insurance provider to pre-authorise your treatment today.

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