Myth #3: Bunions come back even after surgery. Again, not true. A majority of patients are satisfied with their outcome after bunion surgery. Recurrence is possible, but not particularly likely. And, return of a bunion is not necessarily a complication, but something that can happen over time. Some patients have excessive motion in the foot that may predispose them to recurrence. This is why functional foot orthotics are needed in many patients post0operatively to control foot function. Another possible reason for recurrence occurs when a procedure that was performed did not best suit the severity of the particular bunion -- so it's important to have the surgery tailored for your particular bunion. Discuss this with your surgeon or get another opinion prior to surgery.
Myth #4: Bunion Surgery = cast and crutches for months. While this was true years ago, more modern techniques have allowed surgeons to mobilize patients quicker. Mild bunions typically involve walking in short walking boot cast for one month, then a sneaker for another month. Surgeons consider casting with crutches with larger bunions because setting the bones is more complex. Some surgeons have moved away from bone cuts and instead perform a fusion procedure that allows for realignment of the entire deviated bone. This fusion procedure is called the Lapidus Bunionectomy, and contemporary approaches allow for early protected walking at four to six weeks postoperatively. Recent technological advances in medical implant devices have also helped surgeons modify their techniques to get patients moving quicker.
Myth #5: You have to be off work. This, again, is simply not true, and a function of the demands of your workplace. A patient can return to a sedentary desk job within a week of the surgery, and varies based on surgeon protocol and type of bunion surgery performed. Jobs that require excessive walking, standing and physical activity may require a medical leave of absence -- which can be up to two to three months depending on healing and job requirements. Getting around can be difficult and driving may be off limits if you have your right foot operated on and/or drive a manual. Job demands of a pilot certainly differ than those of a secretary.
Myth #6: Don't fix a bunion unless extremely painful. The concern with surgically correcting a non-painful bunion is that the surgery can result in longstanding post-operative pain that may not have been there prior. The old rule-of-thumb, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, people do have surgery for non-painful bunions if the bunion interferes with activity, continues to become larger, or if they have difficulty wearing certain shoes. Surgeons strongly prefer that patients have a painful bunion before they consider surgery. Fortunately, pain is the most common reason people seek treatment.
Myth #7: Bunion surgery results in ugly scars: Surgical healing is part of the process with any surgery, and bunion surgery is no different. Incisions can be minimized, or alternate surgical approaches may be used to hide surgical scars. Bunion incisions are usually located on the top of the foot and technique varies based on surgeon. A surgeon may perform a plastic surgery-type closure to keep scaring minimum. Decreasing swelling, avoiding infection in the postoperative period, and scar cream can also minimize scars.
Bunion surgery, just like any surgery, has its share of myths. Basically, because not all bunions are treated the same, information that may apply to someone with a large bunion may not apply to someone with a small bunion. Take the time to discuss your reservations and alternatives with your surgeon. Often you will find that myths like the 7 discussed are just simply not true.
The majority of patients, having bunion surgery for the right reasons, end up with a good to excellent outcome and would tell you that bunion surgery is definitely worth it!