my bunion surgery

Bunion Surgery

More than a year after bunion surgery, my foot and toes finally began functioning normally!  If you are contemplating having surgery, this article could give you some helpful information.

About a year prior to having surgery, the bunion on my big toe began to be more than an annoying bulge in my shoe. I was in pain and walking was becoming a problem. I went to an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in foot problems to have it checked out.

He explained that I had hallux limitus, a bunion on the top of the big toe. This growth of bone was preventing my big toe from bending sufficiently and a surgical procedure called a cheilectomy would correct the problem. There is a similar condition, called Hallux Rigidus (rigid toe), in which the big toe has no movement at all.

It began as a tiny bump on top of the big toe joint and over 30 years grew to a large bony protrusion. It was not only painful; it also drastically limited my choice of shoes. It got to the point that every pair of shoes was uncomfortable and walking became painful and tiring. Putting any weight on my big toe was so painful that I began stepping on the side of my foot.

Why does it occur?

There are many theories as to the root of the problem, ranging from high heels, tight shoes, hereditary factors, faulty gait, faulty bone contour, muscle dysfunction, irregular bone alignment, and the list goes on and on.

Bunion surgery procedure

A cheilectomy is a surgical procedure that improves the great toe's mobility. A 2-3 inch incision is made over the first joint of the big toe and the bone growth that is preventing motion at the joint is removed. It is the simplest option, and recovery is usually quick.

bandaged foot in a velcro shoe

The surgery went really well and was over in 20 minutes. I was given a nerve block in my ankle, listened to pleasant music through earphones and before I knew it, my foot was all wrapped up and ready to go home.

Two hours after I stepped into the hospital, I was walking out on my own 2 feet, with my right foot in a big black surgical Velcro shoe.

As the anesthesia began wearing off, the pain began and as night set in, I started climbing the walls. Even the pain killers were not helping, but by morning most of the pain finally subsided.

For the next 2 days I rested. I slept and watched TV and slept some more. I was only allowed to get up to got to the toilet. I hadn't had time to rest this much in years. The pain was relatively minor and an occasional Tylenol did the job.

3rd day after surgery - Getting a little restless. I took a bath! I wrapped my foot in a nylon bag to make sure it would stay dry and hung it out over the side of the tub to make sure it stayed dry.

4th day - Had my bandages changed. The stitches look great, and there was only slight swelling with a little bruising around the big toe. The left side of my foot was numb. The doctor said it was normal. My foot was re-bandaged and I was told to return in a week's time.

11 days after bunion surgery

11th day - Had wound checked and it's completely closed, but the stitches have not fallen off. It's safe to wet my foot and can begin doing gentle exercises to regain full range of motion. The numbness has not improved and the black and blue bruises have increased. I will start applying natural oils to help healing and minimize scarring.

Two weeks after the bunion surgery - The stitches are beginning to fall off. The scar looks worse. My foot swells easily and the wound is opening up a bit at the edge.

I drove today. I wrapped up my foot and put on my surgical shoe (for fear that someone or something should come in contact with it). I'm functioning normally, but rest often and put my foot up whenever I can.

after standing on feet for a few minutes, right foot turns red

My foot turns very red when I stand up more than a few minutes. This is normal. There are still areas on my foot that are numb. The doctor explained that this could happen from the nerve block and all sensation would return in another few weeks.

Four weeks - Part of the wound is healing nicely, but about a quarter inch at the end of the scar had opened up slightly and formed a scab. Range of motion is improving slightly. My foot swells whenever I am on my feet for a while. I raise my leg and use ice as often as possible.  I started massaging the scar and the area around it daily, with a mixture of jojoba oil and helichrysum essential oil (30ml jojoba oil + 30 drops of helichrysum).

6 weeks, I am limping less and putting more weight on my right foot. The joint is still very sensitive. I find that a closed sneaker is the most comfortable shoe and it also helps keep swelling down. The scar is getting uglier. It is bulging out, especially at the edges.

Standing on toes 11 weeks after surgery

11 weeks since the bunion surgery - Range of motion hasn't improved in many weeks, so I have begun foot exercises again after neglecting them for about a month. The joint is still sensitive and and painful when I exercise. The area around the scar and ball of foot is still slightly swollen so I cannot wear all my shoes, yet.

On the positive side, my foot does not swell up when I'm on my feet for long hours, coloring is back to normal and feeling has returned to all parts of my foot.

I don't like how my scar looks, shiny and raised, but it seems that scars can take six months to a year to heal completely. 

Healing from bunion surgery is a slow process. For me it took over a year for my toe to regain full mobility and for the scar to heal. BTW, I still use the jojoba/helichrysum.  It is said to have healing powers for skin as well as for joints and it's anti inflammatory.

Scar still very visible 3 months after surgery3 months after surgery
15 months after bunion surgery15 months after surgery

If you are planning to have bunion surgery, understand what you are getting into. Make sure you choose a surgeon with lots of experience in this type of surgery. Ask questions and demand to know exactly what will be done and what results you can expect from the bunion surgery.

Plan to take off work anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, depending on your job. If you stand on your feet most of the day, you will need to take off more than 4 weeks. Take into consideration that wearing regular shoes may be a problem for the first 2 months. If you plan on having both feet done, you need to more than double the above times.  Driving a car can be a problem for some, so take that into consideration.

Your experience can vary, depending on your age, health, pain threshold, unforeseen complications, and mental attitude. If you are a smoker, healing time will take longer.

bunion surgery comments:

Sherae:  Hi what kind of scar cream did you use? Your foot looks great!


Vardit:  Thank you, Sherae, it did heal pretty nicely, thanks to a mixture of essential oils.

As mentioned in the article, I began massaging the scar and the area around it with this mixture, 4 weeks after surgery, when the scar had completely closed. To a 30ml bottle of jojoba oil I added 30 drops of helichrysum and applied it directly to the scar 2-3 times a day.

I have since improved the recipe:

To a 30 ml bottle with a dropper cap, add:

15 drops helichrysum
15 drops lavender
10 drops vitamin E
fill the rest with jojoba oil

Apply this blend 2-3 times a day for the first 3 months and slowly begin tapering off to once a day as the scar begins fading.

IMPORTANT! Do NOT begin this treatment until all stitches have been removed and scar is closed completely.

Massaging the scar also helps reduce scarring by increasing circulation so important for proper healing, and keeps the scar pliable. So, when you apply the oil, massage the area for a minute or so. But be very gentle, especially for the first 4-6 months when the area is still very sensitive.

I still keep this blend on hand, but now I also apply it to my face and throat as a serum before applying face cream in the morning. I figure if it's good for healing scars, it just might do something good for my face!

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