Bunion removal

Alternative names
Bunionectomy; Hallux valgus correction

Bunion removal is the surgical treatment of a deformity of the bones of the big toe and foot (bunion).


A bunion is a painful deformity of the bones and joint between the foot and the big toe. Long-term irritation (chronic inflammation) caused by poorly fitting and/or high-heeled shoes, arthritis, or heredity causes the joint to thicken and enlarge. This causes the big toe to angle in toward and over the second toe, the foot bone (metatarsal) to angle out toward the other foot, and the skin to thicken (callus formation).

The initial treatment for a bunion is changing from narrow and/or high-heeled shoes to wide shoes without a heel. When this does not work, surgery may be recommended.
Surgical removal of a bunion is usually done while the patient is under general anesthesia (asleep and pain-free) and rarely requires a hospital stay. An incision is made along the bones of the big toe into the foot. The deformed joint and bones are repaired, and the bones are stabilized with a pin and/or cast.

Surgery is recommended to correct the deformity, reconstruct the bones and joint, and restore normal, pain-free function.

Risks for bunion surgery include the following:

  • Numbness over the big toe  
  • Wound breakdown  
  • Recurrence of deformity

Expectations after surgery
Most people recover completely from the surgery.

The patient is advised to keep the foot propped up and protected from pressure, weight, and injury while it heals. Complete recovery may require 3 to 5 weeks.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 5, 2012
by Potos A. Aagen, M.D.

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