How Long Does It Take to Recover After Bunion Surgery?

Feb 22, 2023

Although bunion surgery is a relief in many ways, it also raises a lot of questions about your future. How long do you have to be off your feet after bunion surgery? Will you need physical therapy? When can you get back to your life without interruption?

As a common foot deformity, bunions affect millions of people each year. For many, they aren’t debilitating, and they don’t require surgical intervention. But when they become severe, bunions can impact your comfort and mobility.

You might be wondering, “Is bunion surgery worth it?”, and reading this article to weigh the pros and cons of an elective surgical procedure. We will be honest and say that bunion surgery isn’t for everyone, as it does have a noticeable recovery period. However, there are emerging options that are far less invasive and minimize downtime.

How long does it take to recover after bunion surgery?

Bunion Surgery Recovery Timeline

Initial recovery from bunion surgery takes around 6 weeks. During this timeframe, your foot will begin to heal from the surgical incision. Pain and swelling decrease, and you will start to regain mobility. 

Before we look more at bunion surgery recovery, we need to address two caveats. 

  • Everyone’s body is different. Recovery is a unique process. Someone else’s timeline can completely differ from yours depending on factors like age, lifestyle, and bunion severity. Furthermore, the type of surgical technique you choose, and how closely you follow post-surgery instructions will affect how quickly your body heals. 
  • Consider your most important recovery milestones. What are you really looking forward to the most after bunion surgery? You may be eager to start exercising like you used to, drive your car, or go back to work. The goals you have for recovery will influence how quickly you think it’s progressing. Some people see recovery as regained mobility, while others only consider themselves recovered when their pain and swelling are gone completely. 

These caveats are important to help you shape a healthy perspective of your bunion surgery and recovery period. Thinking long-term, most patients need several months to truly heal. The good news is that the results of bunion surgery are long-lasting. Finally, you’ll be able to walk without pain, resume an exercise program, and wear your favorite shoes! 

Let’s look a bit closer at how long it takes to recover from a typical Lapidus procedure for a severe bunion: 

  • 0 to 1 week: This is the most difficult period for most patients. There is little to no weight-bearing activity, so you’ll be mostly be elevating, icing, and resting the foot.
  • 1 to 6 weeks: Begin weight bearing in a tall boot to tolerance.  The amount of time and activity level should increase each week as you begin physical therapy.
  • 6 to 10 weeks: You can usually return to a quality running shoe and increasing walking activities.
  • 3 to 4 months: Now, you will be completely healed! Hooray! There likely won’t have any leftover pain, swelling, or trouble weight-bearing on your affected foot. You can resume high-intensity athletic activities, like playing sports, running, and cycling.

How Lapiplasty 3D Bunion Surgery Can Speed Up Recovery

Every patient opting for surgical treatment has the same question: “What is the easiest bunion surgery?”

While a Lapidus bunionectomy is the most traditional treatment, it is also the most invasive. It restores the natural alignment of your big toe by removing cartilage surfaces from the big toe joint (metatarsal bone) and smaller bones in your midfoot (medial cuneiform). 

The surgery corrects your misalignment and uses small screws and possibly a plate to hold the new position. Over time, the bones will grow together (fuse), giving you a naturally smooth appearance. 

While bunionectomies are effective, they also require the most downtime. What if we told you there was another way to achieve exceptional results without that timeline we talked about earlier? It’s time to talk about the Lapiplasty 3D procedure!

Lapiplasty is minimally invasive, meaning it requires smaller incisions and less trauma to the foot area. Less trauma equals less pain, inflammation, and downtime for you. 

During a lapiplasty, our surgeons use tiny, highly specialized tools to completely rotate your misaligned metatarsal bone. Using low-profile titanium plates, our surgeons then stabilize and solidify the joint.

The result? Much faster recovery times that see you weight-bearing in a matter of days, and switching from your surgical boot back to regular shoes in around 6 weeks.

Unlike traditional surgery, lapiplasty completely realigns the metatarsal bone. Because it has the greatest level of correction, the risk of recurrent bunions is much lower. For patients with severe bunions, the risk of recurrence is as high as 25% after traditional surgery.

There are more reasons why lapiplasty 3D is such a great alternative to a bunionectomy: 

  • Less post-operative pain 
  • Minimal scarring
  • Lower risk of surgical infection or complications
Foot in grass with bunion needing bunion surgery

How Comprehensive Foot Centers Can Help With Surgery and Recovery

Our team is on your side 100%. From the first consultation to post-operative follow-ups, we walk with you every step of the way. Our goal is to help you not only relieve pain but also ensure you don’t have to have interventions for the same bunion again in the future.

We want to heal your bunion, alleviate your pain, and get you back to living life to its fullest as quickly and safely as possible.

The Comprehensive Foot and Ankle Centers team never overlooked a single detail. Every meeting starts with a complete assessment, followed by personal recommendations for treatment. We always opt for the least invasive, most effective options first. 

In addition to helping you decide if bunion surgery is right for you, we also provide detailed post-operative care instructions to make recovery easier and faster. The better you stick to the surgeon’s recommendations, the smoother your recovery will be. 

Please reach out to us today if you would like to discuss bunion surgery with one of our board-qualified or board-certified ankle and foot surgeons. You can reach one of our Missouri or Kansas podiatry offices by calling (816) 455-1155 or filling out our online form.