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When Can I Walk Barefoot After Bunion Surgery?

Posted June 13, 2024 in Bunion Surgery

person walks barefoot on the grass

After bunion surgery, you might think your work to correct the issue is done–but the recovery process is just the next step to healing. This blog discusses what the patient needs to know about caring for their foot post-bunion surgery, including how long they must wear their surgical boot and how to transition to normal–then no–shoes.

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Getting Back to Normal After Bunion Surgery

Your feet may finally be free from constant discomfort, but that doesn’t mean the healing process is over. Following bunion surgery, it can be tempting to want to jump back up on your feet right away. After living with the pain of a bunion, the idea of being able to walk pain-free is probably pretty alluring, but it’s never a good idea to rush recovery. 

Below, we’ll discuss the rules of bunion recovery, including what shoes you’ll be expected to wear and when you can safely walk barefoot.

Will I Heal From Bunion Surgery in Time to Go to the Beach?

Nothing says summer like hanging out by the pool or going to the beach. And while those hallmarks of the hot months can be the highlight of the summer, it may not sound as appealing while wearing a surgical boot. So, when can you safely walk barefoot after bunion surgery?

The short answer: about two months. But this will vary from patient to patient, as everyone will have a different rate of healing, varying degrees of necessary revision, and alternative techniques for their procedures, which all play into your ability to shed the surgical boot and get back to normal. 

If you undergo your bunionectomy in late spring, you should be able to safely enjoy the end of the summer season free from the recovery boot. Below, we’ll break down some of the key recovery points for bunion surgery to get you on the road to healing.

How Do I Take Care of My Foot After Bunion Surgery?

Regardless of the specific techniques used, a bunionectomy aims to restore functionality and reduce pain caused by bunions. Your surgeon will likely shave the protruding bone and straighten out the deformity using precise surgical incisions and screws to allow the bone to heal in the correct position. The surrounding ligaments and tissues can also be reinforced with sutures to give a better structure to support the alignment of the big toe. 

Suffice it to say that bunion surgery is more complicated than simply shaving off the bump on the side of the big toe. There’s a lot of rearrangement of tissues, ligaments, and support of the bone to consider, so your recovery should be taken very seriously. Your job during recovery is to protect your healing foot and then engage in restorative physical therapy to get back to normal. Your podiatrist will provide more specific instructions for you to follow, but you may experience the following: 

Helpful Bunion Recovery Tips

Protective gauze, bandages, and a surgical shoe or boot will wrap and protect your foot immediately after surgery. This boot is used to keep your surgical site safe from bumps and bruises, and it allows you to place a little weight on it immediately after surgery. You may also be given crutches if walking with the surgical boot proves to be too difficult. 

You’ll be asked to keep your foot elevated as much as possible—this is non-negotiable. Elevating your foot keeps your swelling (and, with it, pain) to a minimum and greatly helps healing. 

Your foot will remain bandaged for the first two weeks, so keep it clean and dry. Once your bandages are removed, you can begin doing small stretches and movements to keep your ankle and foot flexible. You’ll still be in your surgical boot, but you’ll have more mobility.

After about six weeks, you should be able to move on to sneakers and then regular shoes. These should be supportive, with a soft upper, and roomy enough to not cause discomfort around your surgical site. Your podiatrist will be able to advise you on the best choice. 

Although you may be cleared to wear normal shoes, you may not be ready to walk barefoot at the six-week mark. It may take up to 8 weeks until your foot has healed enough to walk barefoot, as the muscles, tendons, and ligaments must be fully healed and strong enough to support you. 

Want to Learn More About Bunion Surgery in NYC?

Chelsea Foot & Ankle is a full-service, boutique-style podiatric medical and surgical practice led by Dr. Ethan Ciment. At Chelsea Foot & Ankle, we strive to provide comprehensive, conservative care whenever possible for our bunion patients. Still, when surgery is necessary, we make the process as smooth as possible. 

If you’d like to learn more about your bunion surgical options or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ciment, call us today at (646) 929-4149 or fill out our online contact form to get started.

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