Bunion Surgery

This patient page provides information about bunion surgery. If you still have questions after reading this, you should ask your GP or health professional.

Why do I have a bunion?

You will have noticed a hard, bony lump on the side of your foot, where the big toe begins (see figure 1).

Figure 1
Bunion on the left foot
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Shoes that are too narrow commonly cause bunions. The toes are not able to fit in their natural position. The joint at the bottom of the big toe is also occasionally affected by arthritis in patients with bunions.

Should I consider surgery?

Surgery can straighten the affected toe, meaning your shoes will fit more comfortably.

Are there any non-surgical alternatives?

Patients who opt not to have surgery should consider changing their footwear to ensure it fits comfortably. Painkillers and Orthotics (insoles) are also an option.

What is bunion surgery?

The surgeon aims to realign the big toe alongside the smaller toes by releasing or tightening the ligaments. The operation takes between half an hour and one hour and the choice of anaesthetic will be discussed with you.

The following complications are possible after bunion surgery:

General complications

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infected wound
  • Blood clotting
  • Difficulty passing urine
  • Scarring

Complications related to bunion surgery specifically

  • Bone healing problems
  • Damage to nerves
  • The big toe might be less mobile
  • Severe pain, stiffness or loss of use of the foot associated with complex regional pain syndrome

Recovery time

You will be discharged on the same day as your surgery.

For the first week, you will need to have your leg raised to allow the swelling to go down.

Your surgeon may decide to put your operated leg in a plaster cast for a few weeks and it is likely that you will require a walking aid such as elbow crutches to assist you until the pain and swelling settles down.

Regular exercise is advised. This helps you to get back to normal activity levels more quickly.

You should talk to your GP or healthcare professional before resuming exercise.


If you have a painful bunion, the expected benefit of surgery is that it should straighten your big toe and allow you to wear normal shoes.



EIDO Healthcare Limited – The operation and treatment information on this website is produced using information from EIDO Healthcare Ltd and is licensed by Aspen Healthcare.

The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Bunion Surgery Consultants