How Long Does It Take to Recover After Bunion Surgery?

Jul 21, 2020

Out of all the things that are involved or required with getting bunion surgery, the post-surgical recovery probably causes the most anxiety. When will I be able to walk again? How long will I be off work? When do things go completely back to normal?

We won’t lie to you: full recovery will take time. But the good news is that thanks to new and advanced surgical methods we’re now using in our office (including Lapiplasty 3D Bunion Correction), the amount of downtime required after the procedure is shrinking quickly. In some cases, patients are back on their feet and walking only days after surgery (instead of several weeks)!

Surprised? Let’s learn a little bit more.

recover after bunion surgery

Bunion Surgery Recovery: The Traditional Timeline

We want to start by walking you through a typical recovery timeframe for patients who use an older, more traditional type of open surgery for their bunion correction. If you qualify for Lapiplasty, your time to return to several key milestones may be much quicker. (More on that later in the blog post.)

But before we begin, there are a couple of important caveats to consider.

  • Everyone is different. The timetables we give in this blog are typical for the average case, but not every case is “average.” Some people heal faster. Some heal slower. It depends on a lot of factors, including your age and overall health status, severity of your bunion, procedure chosen, how well you follow post-surgical instructions, etc.
  • Which recovery milestone is most important to you? For example, some people are most concerned about how long they’ll be out of work. For others, the big milestone is being able to wear normal shoes again, or drive their car, or restart their exercise program. And others want to know when things will be completely back to normal, when even mild, intermittent pain and swelling are gone for good.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s throw out some numbers. If you get a conventional open bunion surgery (a “Lapidus procedure”) for a moderate to severe bunion, you can expect a timeline roughly in line with the following:

  • About 2-6 weeks of no or extremely limited weight bearing activity
  • About 6 weeks before you can return to weightbearing activity, including driving your car if you had surgery on your right foot.
  • About 8 weeks before you can return to regular tennis shoes.
  • About 3-4 months for a complete recovery (full healing, absolutely no residual pain or swelling, full return to high-intensity athletic activities).

As for when you can return to work, that depends on your job responsibilities and what accommodations can be made. If you have an office job or work from home, you may be able to return in a week (or less). If your job requires a lot of standing, walking, or lifting, you may require more time off.

Again, please understand that these are estimates and the timeline may be shorter, especially if you are healthy and your bunion is less severe.

Speeding Up Recovery with Lapiplasty 3D Bunion Correction

All those numbers we just gave you? If we determine you’re a good candidate for the Lapiplasty procedure, you can forget them.

Lapiplasty is a minimally invasive surgical procedure. We make a small incision on the top of the foot. Then, specialized tools are used to reposition the misaligned bone—not just in two dimensions, but also rotationally—and solidify the unstable joint that caused the bunion with a pair of anatomically designed, low-profile titanium plates.

What does this mean for recovery? In short, it means a much faster return to normal activities.

On average, people who undergo Lapiplasty can bear weight on their foot in only a few days (instead of several weeks) are out of their surgical boot and back to regular shoes in about six weeks.

Faster recovery isn’t the only benefit of Lapiplasty, either.

Because it fully realigns the metatarsal bone (including rotationally, which traditional surgeries don’t fix) and fixes the unstable joint, recurrence rates are much lower. According to early research, your odds of having your bunion return are about 12 times higher with a traditional osteotomy versus Lapiplasty.

And because Lapiplasty is minimally invasive, there’s less scarring, less post-surgical pain, and lower risk of infection or other complications than traditional surgery as well.

recover after bunion surgery

Helping You Recover Quickly (and Safely) After Bunion Surgery

Here at Comprehensive Foot Centers, our team is 100% committed to getting you on the best path to recovery, using the least disruptive techniques possible that are optimally suited to your unique situation.

In addition to providing advanced alternatives to traditional surgeries, we’ll also make sure you have the comprehensive information you need to make your recovery as smooth and successful as possible. That includes how you should prepare your home, what supplies you’ll need, how to protect your foot, when you can return to various exercises, and more.

The better you follow your post-surgical advice, generally speaking, the faster you’ll recover and the lower your risk of any delays or complications.

If bunion surgery is something you’ve been considering for a while now, please don’t wait any longer to reach out to our team. We’ll help you find out whether surgery is necessary and, if it is, make sure you get the advanced care you need from one of our board-qualified or board-certified foot and ankle surgeons.

To request an appointment at any of our offices in Missouri or Kansas, call (816) 455-1155 or contact us online.