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Bunion surgery called osteotomy

BMJ Group Medical Reference


This information is for people who have bunions. It tells you about an operation called osteotomy, a treatment used for bunions. It is based on the best and most up-to-date research.

Does it work?

Yes. A type of surgery called an osteotomy can get rid of your bunion and put your big toe joint back into line. Your toe may hurt less afterwards, so you can walk more easily. Most people are happier with how their foot looks too.

But there are risks with this operation. And your toe may not be perfectly straight afterwards.

This information is about surgery for adults. To read about surgery for children, see Bunions in children.

What is it?

You get a bunion when the two bones in the joint of your big toe move out of line with each other. This makes your big toe joint stick out. The bony bump you can see and feel is the bunion. For more, see What are bunions?

In an osteotomy operation, doctors cut away the bony bump. Then they usually take out a small piece of bone from one of the two bones. This lets them push the bones in your toe joint back into line with each other. [2]

There are more than 100 types of osteotomy operation. [7] The type you have depends on your doctor and how far the bones in your toe joint have moved. Your doctor may:

  • Take out a small piece of bone from your main foot bone and move it back into line

  • Take out a small piece of bone from the base of your big toe to straighten this toe, as well as taking out a piece from your main foot bone

  • Take out more bone to get your bones to line up better

  • Cut the main bone in your foot further down the bone and away from your toe

  • Operate on the tendons and ligaments around your big toe joint. This can make them tighter or looser. It's done through a separate cut, usually between your big toe and second toe.

Your doctor might use screws, pins, wires, or a plate to hold your bones in place after the operation. [20] [21] These parts may be left in your foot, may dissolve over time, or may be taken out in a second operation. For more, see Holding your bones in place.

For more about what happens when you have this operation, see Bunion surgery in our section on operations and tests.

After surgery, you'll probably be given crutches and a special shoe to protect your foot. You can typically start to put weight on your foot after one or two weeks. But for some kinds of bunion surgery, you might need a plaster cast on your foot and up to your knee. The cast stops you putting weight on your foot. You won't be able to walk on it for up to six weeks. For more, see Caring for your foot after surgery.

Last Updated: May 16, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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