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After reading countless posts on pain and sufferings of bunions and bunion surgeries, I've decided to start this thread to just give you guys a different perspective. It seems to me that only people with really bad outcomes are motivated to post on health boards :-), and it scares the heck out of other people, including myself.
I've had my bunions since I was 12 (I'm 37 now), always wanted to get at least one of them corrected (the left foot was particularly bad), and never had guts to actually proceed with the surgery. There was always someone by my side saying "I've heard the pain's awful and they always come back", and being a runner/hiker/backpacker, I was not really thrilled to stay off my feet forever, thinking "well, at least now I can do this and that, who knows what's going to happen when they cut my bones and put a scr*w in?"... On the other side, it was obvious that the deformity was not getting any better and, in fact, had all the chances to get worse, which meant a more complicated surgery later in life...not something to be looking forward to, really.
So last Friday 9/10, 5 days ago, I had my left foot operated on; I guess you'd call it a "moderate" bunion, a big toe pushing the rest of the toes aside, just starting to overlap. Do not have any recollection of the surgery (general sedation and an ankle block). I only remember saying to the anesthesiologist "This stuff kicks in pretty fast" as I was passing out, and the next thing I saw when I opened my eyes was my doc, pointing at my foot, all wrapped up, signaling "ok" with his hand. No pain during the surgery (drugs), no pain right after. I was sent home with vicodin and an ice machine and instructions to call 24/7 "if anything", so I was completely prepared to face the post surgical pain...which never came. The numbness lasted good 18 hours, and then I just iced the foot pretty much all the time and kept it elevated. Simple as that. I could walk in a surgical shoe right away, but was definitely encouraged to stay on the couch with my foot up.

I'll keep you guys posted on how it goes, I understand it's still too early in the recovery process, but I think it may help someone to know that you do have a chance to go through the surgery without much pain. I certainly wish someone had told me this 10 years ago :-).

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You are the lucky one and I can say that I envy you. But look, you don't need to necessarily feel the pain immediately after the surgery. You can start to feel some changes, some pain such as painful little toe month or two after the procedure. That is why I do believe that it is early to start with some prognosis, but maybe you won't feel any pain at all. That is good. And that doesn't mean that there is something wrong with your or with the surgery, everything is OK, you are just lucky, your anatomy can stand everything :) Keep your positive vibes on all the time! 

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It's been 8 days since the surgery, I can walk around the house in my surgical shoe, up and downstairs, quite normally. I'm not even trying to step on the outer side of the foot anymore. The toes are still bruised, from what I can see, and a bit swollen, if I compare them to the toes on my right foot. They don't look abnormally puffy, just a little wider than on other foot. Still keeping it elevated most of the time and ice occasionally. Keeping my fingers crossed :-)
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Well it's day 15, things are looking good except for the bruises on my toes that became a lot more visible last week.
I had to go shopping with my 12-year-old today and spent a couple hours hobbling around the store. I'm still in a surgical shoe with bandages on, and have no pain or discomfort on my "bunion" side. It's going to be another week till I can wear a regular shoe, I'm thinking even with all the swelling I can fit in ones I used to wear as they were pretty wide... but we'll see.
I've been working from home all this time, and if I stay on the couch with my laptop, there's no swelling at all, but when I spend most of the day at a desk, the edema's kind of obvious. I'll have to start driving to the office next week and ain't really sure how this is going to work out because it'll definitely make me spend more time on my feet. I've also started my "exercise regime" with flexing the big toe; really not noticing too much difference bending it up but it's definitely more stiff bending down.
That's pretty much it for now...:-)
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Day 21 after surgery.
First week at work went smooth but it's official: sitting at the desk is the worst for swelling.
Got the stitches out, still in a surgical shoe which supposedly will be gone in a couple of days. No pain when walking at all...I also got back to the gym, for upper body exercises mostly, but I was able to do some stationary biking, too, not an awful lot - didn't want to push it, maybe 10 min, but it felt good to be doing something...
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Thank you for all your posts, sweetlana. I also had my bunion surgery on September 23rd and I'm happy to report it was a very pleasant experience like yours. Getting my foot cast off on Monday. Looking forward to sneakers in my near future!
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You're certainly welcome- I'm glad your recovery's doing fine as well!
Tomorrow's going to be 5 weeks since the surgery, and I'm still glad I had it done :). After a week of wearing soft slippers I was able to fit in a wider shoe (Merrell's), it feels really tight though! The doctor said the swelling's normal for a few more weeks but I can tell that things are getting better and better. I'm using a scar cream on the scar and covering it with a non-sticky band aid. The big toe is thankfully not really stiff but doing the "bending" exercises is not too enjoyable, either. I can't wait till I can take longer walks and eventually start running again!
Btw, for those who run, I found a "back-to-running" program from Amol Saxena (a DPM who operated on Paula Radcliff's bunion), see the "return to sports after injury" section.

***edited by moderator*** web addresses not allowed
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Hello sweetlana,
I've enjoyed reading your posts - please continue sending updates to us, as I find them very comforting to read since your experience is going so well.
I too will be having bunion surgery but not until the new year. I figured that it would be a lot easier going to the physiotherapist (after my surgery) when the weather is warm (I live in Canada and we can have snow/freezing rain as early as Halloween!).
I have a question that I hope that you can help me out with...did you use an icing machine for your foot or simply an ice pack? Can you specify how much icing you did? Initially, I was thinking of buying a breg polar icing machine but I am now thinking of buying a ColdOne ice wrap - just thought that it would be easier than an ice pack or pack of frozen peas...no condensation to deal with and it stays put with velcro closure.
Any suggestions?
Thank you,
Barb
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Hi barb4675 and you're certainly welcome, I'm glad you find my experience helpful! I did use an ice machine- a plastic container filled with water/ice mixture that pumps it constantly into a "boot" on your foot. I have no idea how to get the same effect with an ice pack...I still use it on days when I've spent too much time walking to reduce the swelling and it's shocking now how cold the boot gets! :-) My insurance didn't cover it though and it's not cheap at all but I'm a long distance runner and things like that do come in handy.
Good thinking about PT, I'm doing some electro stimulation at the doctor's office and some exercises at home. The doctor's saying that I'm moving along fairly fast in recovery, switching to regular shoes, walking, etc. He says that the swelling will be there for several months and shouldn't bother me and that the main goal is to get back the full range of motion in the big toe "to forget that I even had a surgery".
Stay positive, if your bunions are bothering you, you'll have to deal with them sooner or later, and the longer you wait, the more complicated the surgery may get. That was my thinking, anyway :-) good luck!
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6 weeks since the surgery. I'm able to walk fast, without any pain or limping. The big toe feels quite normally, and I don't feel any stiffness when walking. The swelling is still there, can only fit in my old Merrells and gym shoes which is fine for now. I'm putting mederma on the scar, it's still red and I'm thinking it'll take a while for it to become lighter, which honestly doesn't bother me much. I'm just happy for my foot to feel and function normally.
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Hi Sweetlana,
It sounds like you are doing great! It's nice to hear, especially since I'm so scared about my upcoming surgery. It's people like you who will give me the courage to actually go through with it - I've already cancelled my surgery once before!
What kind of surgery did you end up having...do you have any screws or wires in your foot? Initially, my orthopedic surgeon suggested that I have a type of surgery where I would need 4 screws and a metal plate in my foot - but my foot has "improved" by 2 degrees with the help of toe separators and night splints (woo-hoo) and she is now considering a different procedure (chevron). She would put a wire in my foot...and then take it out at a later date (something that kind of freaks me out).
...also, I was wondering if you could tell me the brand name of your cold therapy/ice machine? I was thinking of getting a breg polar cold therapy unit but it doesn't seem to have an attachment specifically designed for the foot...more of a universal pad. If I could find something that was specifically designed for the foot - that would make me feel a whole lot better.
Barb
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Hi Barb:
I ended up with an osteotomy- had a bone cut and a scr*w put in. It's not supposed to be taken out and it doesn't bother me a single bit.
I wish I had a "cosmetic" scar on the side of the foot (mine's on top) but it's a little over an inch long, and may fade with time. I'm massaging it every night hoping it'll help.

The machine I used was Vitalwear, I've never used anything else and don't know if there's a difference between them - essentially they all should be doing the same thing, right?
I hear you on being afraid of the surgery...I've been doubting myself for over a decade! It feels nice to have it over with, though. I knew it was not going to improve by itself, and it was starting to affect the quality of my life BIG time. Every surgery is a huge risk, we all know that, but if you have an experienced surgeon (mine's been practicing for over 25 years), you're doing the best you can for yourself. A lot of women in my family had terribly deformed feet in their later years, that affected their balance/ability to walk without falling, caused hammer toes, varicose veins, all sorts of stuff that's terribly not pleasant (not even talking about the nightmare of finding any type of shoes to wear somewhat comfortably). I think if there's a chance to avoid it, why not take it?..
It's been a little over 7 weeks, I went for a walk with my husband today, 2 miles, I think I could have walked longer but I'm trying to take it easy. Can't wait to start running again!
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Just posted as a "guest" by mistake!

Hi Barb:
I ended up with an osteotomy- had a bone cut and a scr*w put in. It's not supposed to be taken out and it doesn't bother me a single bit.
I wish I had a "cosmetic" scar on the side of the foot (mine's on top) but it's a little over an inch long, and may fade with time. I'm massaging it every night hoping it'll help.

The machine I used was Vitalwear, I've never used anything else and don't know if there's a difference between them - essentially they all should be doing the same thing, right?
I hear you on being afraid of the surgery...I've been doubting myself for over a decade! It feels nice to have it over with, though. I knew it was not going to improve by itself, and it was starting to affect the quality of my life BIG time. Every surgery is a huge risk, we all know that, but if you have an experienced surgeon (mine's been practicing for over 25 years), you're doing the best you can for yourself. A lot of women in my family had terribly deformed feet in their later years, that affected their balance/ability to walk without falling, caused hammer toes, varicose veins, all sorts of stuff that's terribly not pleasant (not even talking about the nightmare of finding any type of shoes to wear somewhat comfortably). I think if there's a chance to avoid it, why not take it?..
It's been a little over 7 weeks, I went for a walk with my husband today, 2 miles, I think I could have walked longer but I'm trying to take it easy. Can't wait to start running again!
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oh, forgot to tell you guys, I'm planning a Vegas trip in three weeks, which would normally mean high heels! Don't know if I'm going to be ready for that :-) Surprisingly some of them fit but I'm afraid to overdo and end up back where I started...I can stand on my toes (that's one of the exercises I've been doing for flexibility) but walking in heels still seems far out of reach.
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Hi,

I just wanted to post that my surgery was very successful as well. My surgery was a bit more complicated since I was born with bunions and that just resulted in more of a foot deformity over time. I had surgery done in 3 places on my left foot. I had a Arthodesis midtarsal, bunion osteotemy, and and tailors bunion osteotemy. I had 3 screws places in left foot, 2 in the metatarsal and one near the pinky toe. I had my surgery on 8/12/10 and it's been 13 weeks and my foot is healing perfectly fine. I can wear tennis shoes and flats. I still have some slight swelling a bit but that's only if I stand for too long. Also, I don't wake up with stiff toes anymore.

I had to be in a hard cast for 5 weeks, then a surgical boot for about a month and afterwards I was able to wear any tennis shoes that were comfortable. After I took the cast off, I had to do physical therapy twice a week for 4 weeks but I ended up only doing 2 weeks since I was healing pretty fast. My only advice is when you have bunion surgery, make sure you exercise your big toe regularly to prevent it from being stiff afterwards. Movement in big toe is very important in walking and running. I am planning on getting the right foot done in January.

Good luck to anyone that is thinking of getting this done. I wish I had done it 10 years ago but I was too scared (28 now) and I am glad I did!
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