Bunion Surgery Instructions


You have chosen to have bunion surgery by Dr. Nicholas A. Campitelli. While you may have heard stories of this being a painful surgery and long recovery, we have improved medical technology and refined the post operative course over the past 10 years to make this as smooth and painless of a recovery as possible. If you have already gone through your pre-operative visit with Dr. Campitelli, you should be aware of the options available for recovery. Some are not covered by insurance and if you would like to be proactive in all aspects of recovery you can elect to explore these options.

Procedure selection

There are multiple ways to correct a bunion deformity. The two basic ways involve realigning the joint by cutting the bone near the great toe joint for mild deformities or in the midfoot region for more severe bunions. Procedures for the milder deformity usually allow for a faster recovery. A Lapidus procedure, which addresses the midfoot, can take up to 6 -8 weeks to recover from.

Day of Surgery

Bunion surgery is an outpatient procedure. When you are finished you will be discharged home after a short period in recovery. You will be placed into your walking boot as well as given a surgical shoe. You should keep the boot on for the first week at all times unless you are icing your foot or performing range of motion exercises. PLEASE SLEEP IN THE BOOT (CAM WALKER) UNTILL YOU ARE INSTRUCTED NOT TO. The boot will protect any accidents that could damage the surgical site. As you progress in healing in the second and third weeks, you can wear the walking shoe if you had a mild bunion correction. If you had a more severe correction performed, you should stay in the cam walker (boot).

Follow Up appointment

Your first follow up appointment will be within five days of your surgery. Dr. Campitelli performs his elective procedures on Friday so post operative appointments are typically the following Monday or Tuesday.

Recovery time

Recovery time will vary depending on the procedure you had done. Most procedures will involve wearing a cam Walker for the first three weeks post operatively. This should be worn at all times during the first week after surgery even when sleeping. You can take it off to ice your foot and begin range of motion exercises for the great toe. After three weeks patients can then start wearing a running shoe to walk in. If you still have swelling or pain at three weeks, or had a more involved procedure such as a Lapidus bunionectomy, you will need to remain in the boot. People heal at different rates so these are estimates of typical recovery rates we see.

Return to work

This will vary depending on your job duties and amount of time you are in your feet. If you have a “desk job” we can most likely get you back to work within a week. If you stand for 6-8 hours a day or more, it more than likely will take longer. If surgery is performed on your right foot you may not be able to drive for three weeks pending your recovery time. Those who are more aggressive in their recovery can get back to driving faster.

Range of motion exercises

It is important to get the big toe joint moving after surgery to prevent the joint from “freezing-up”. We ask that you gently begin moving the joint 24 hours after surgery to increase and maintain this motion. Use pain as a guidance of how much or frequently you should be doing this.

Bandages

Dr. Campitelli will change your bandages on your first post operative visit and then requires you to keep your bandages in place for one week without getting wet until the next post operative visit. If you do get the bandages wet, please call the office at 330-926-3231 for instructions on what to do. In the meantime allow bandages to air dry.
Signs of Infection

It is rare for infection to occur immediately after your procedure. If post operative infections occur, they are usually 5-7 days after your procedure. If you are experiencing pain immediately after your surgery it is normal.

  • Signs of infection can include any of the following:
  • Redness extending up the leg
  • Temperature higher then 99.9
  • Feeling flu like symptoms
  • Nausea or vomiting that is not related to post operative anesthesia effects

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please call the office at 330-926-3231 and have Dr. Campitelli paged.

Pain

It is completely normal to experience pain after surgery. Pain is subjective and some may experience more than others. Do not panic if you are in severe pain the night of or the day after your surgery. Despite what others may have told you (there are some horrific stories floating around out there!), bunion surgery is not that painful. Many of our patients do not even require pain medicine after bunion surgery. Within 48-72 hours after surgery, those that did take pain medicine no longer require any.

Swelling

You will experience swelling of your foot and ankle for many months after foot surgery. I routinely tell my patients they will experience swelling for up to one year after surgery. The best way to reduce or control your swelling is by elevation of your leg when you are at rest. Your leg should be evaluated high enough to allow the fluid to flow form the foot or leg back to your body. When questioning how high your leg should be, your leg should be high enough to let the fluid run out of your foot or ankle. It also also common to see swelling as high as the knee in major reconstructive surgeries. If, however, you are experiencing severe redness and swelling in the calf muscle that is painful, this could indicate a blood clot which is a medical emergency. Blood clots are more common in the following individuals:

  •  smokers
  •  if you are taking birth control or oral contraceptives
  •  overweight
  •  clotting disorders
  •  previous history of a blood clot

If you have one or any of the above conditions, and have signs and symptoms of a blood clot as described, this is a medical emergency and you should seek immediate attention at the emergency room if unable to reach the office.

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