Question from Diane: I will have bunion surgery on Friday on my left foot. It’s had problems of blisters and pain. The right is not as bad. So I planned on just repairing the left first. Please give me some tips on preventing the next surgery or should I just have it done at the same time?

Smiling Walker: I wish I had all the answers for you. Here’s my experience and what I learned:

Both my surgeon and 2nd opinion doctor advised against both feet at the same time. Both have done surgeries on people who had both feet done. I have spoken to four women who had both feet done at the same time.

Woman #1, a good friend, said it wasn’t a problem physically. She just shuffled on crutches at her job (she’s a teacher) for several weeks. She was married at the time with two preteens and said she got little help from the family, which made it difficult. She also only had problems with the big toe bunions.

Woman #2 said she was a busy, active woman with two teenage children and a husband and couldn’t waste the time off her feet doing one foot at a time. She demanded her doctor do both or she’d find another doctor. He did it. She said she slid on her butt in the house for a month and crawled with her feet up for a few weeks after that, but then it was over and she was back on her feet running (literally – she is a runner). She said it helped that her children waited on her or she would have been left to the dogs. It’s been two years and she says her feet are not “big boob” pretty, but they work.

Woman #3 (#2′s sister) is also a busy woman, but single. Her experience was very painful and difficult. She attributes this to not having the support system to help her while she was recovering. She recommends one foot at time to anyone who asks.

Woman #4 is a mom of three boys now, but was single at the time she had her bunions removed. She said her fiancĂ© did everything for her for a month. She didn’t walk on her feet the entire time except to go the bathroom, and like #2, she crawled with feet up. She said it was really hard to follow instructions, but she did. It’s been 20 years and she has had no problems. She, like Woman #2, is very active – a fitness trainer.
She also said that she did weekly physical therapy recommended by her doctor (mine didn’t recommend this, which I found odd) and felt that helped her tremendously.

I considered doing both feet because of the time factor, but talked myself out of double foot surgery for several reasons and only did my right foot, which was causing a lot of pain.

  1. I am single and a self-employed professional speaker who is on my feet for hours at a time, I didn’t have the financial or social support to be off my feet for 4-6 weeks or the extra downtime if I had complications.
  2. Because both docs were so against double foot surgery, I decided there must be something to that. They both said I needed the other foot for balance and walking and without it if there were problems, I’d have more complications. After the cynic in me thought they might just want more business, I decided I’d rather have a happy surgeon cutting on my foot than someone who was energetically stressing because I might not follow post-recovery protocol and end up with complications that could affect their business.
  3. I didn’t have pain in my left foot and the docs had said to use surgery as a last resort. This made sense to me because technology is changing so quickly so who knows what new techniques they could have in the next decade.
  4. I met several alternative healers who said that with exercise and focused visualization I could at the very least prevent the left foot from getting worse and at best, perhaps even reverse the bunion. (That fell in the miracle category for me, but I’m open. <smiling>

In retrospect, post surgery, I made the right decision for me to do one foot at a time. I should also mention that I had two “procedures” on my right foot – bunion surgery and hammertoe surgery on the 2nd toe, because I let things go too long (I didn’t know I should have seen a podiatrist in my teens. I’ve had complications with my right foot that I’ve addressed on my blog.

Regarding preventing the next surgery, what I’ve learned is that podiatrist-fitted orthotics (range $250-$600) can, in some cases, prevent bunions from getting worse, so that could be a good option. I’m guessing your doctor will recommend them. I have them now and while I’m noticing slightly less pain on the pad of my right foot, there is still pain. Also, I’m flat footed and do notice arch support and that my ankles are not caving inside (called pronating) as much when I walk.

I’m not sure what you should do, nor would I tell you since I’m not a doctor, however, I do believe you already know the answer for yourself.

One of the ideas I’m working with when I don’t know what to do is to choose conscious non-action and ask for a clear answer in my meditations, which eventually comes, sometimes only at the moment when I’m forced to make a choice. I also ask my foot (or whatever body part is in pain) what it wants. May sound crazy, but that dialogue has connected me more with my body and healing.

Best wishes on a successful surgery!

9 Thoughts on “Bunion Surgery On Both Feet at the Same Time?

  1. I’m 12, and I had each done at once, and they came back, so i had both done at the same time. The recovery is hard, but in the end, it was worth it to get both done at once! Now I’m doing great with 2 walking aircast.

  2. Pauline on October 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm said:

    I had both bunions fixed last week, along with six hammer toes, which was lengthy and extensive surgery, but my feet had been in a terrible state. I had a general anesthetic, then after surgery the surgeon injected a nerve block.
    I had no pain for the first ten hours, and to my intense relief, hardly any pain after. i took only panadol, and a stronger painkiller for the first two nights. I was kept in hospital three days so the occupational therapists could get me walking in the special boots which keep your weight on the heel. I have very little swelling anywhere.
    I’m finding the inactivity the biggest drawback, and am not looking forward to the next five weeks, but really glad I had the op after years of pain, and walking on my toenails because my toes were so clawed. Would recommend the op to anyone who is in pain.

  3. Bunion Survivor on October 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm said:

    Emily, you’re so young and brave to have had this surgery done twice and on both feet at the same time! I’m glad you’re doing great.

    Pauline, wow! What a success story and a wonderful example of taking care of yourself. I’m so glad your post surgery pain has been minimal! So many people wait too long and live with unnecessary pain.

    Stay in touch and let us know how you’re doing. Wishing you both healthy feet and a happy heart.

  4. Pauline on December 19, 2012 at 3:24 am said:

    Hi Bunionsurvivor,
    Well its now 8 weeks after my surgery, and I can honestly say, I have had minimal pain (except when I bumped a toe with a pin in it!)
    The pins came out at 6 weeks, which I must admit was a bit traumatic, and unfortunately the surgeon has said the bones havent fully healed so I have to wear the heel boots for another six weeks. This has been the hardest thing to cope with – I get pretty exhausted balancing on the boots, but probably have been on them too much any way.
    I think the results have been worth all of this though, and wouldnt hesitate to have the surgery again. Perhaps I have just been very lucky, I don’t know, but am very glad I had the surgery,
    Pauline

  5. carol haroldson on January 25, 2013 at 12:43 pm said:

    Thank you for the excellent feedback. I am having both feet operated on in Feb. This is largely for cosmetic reasons though I also have alot of pain in my toes. Am I crazy to be off my feet for so long? I’m very active and my job involves standing most of the time.

  6. Bunion Survivor on January 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm said:

    Carol, best wishes on your surgery. You ask if you’re crazy to be off your feet for so long given that you’re active and your job involves a lot of standing.

    The short answer – if pain is keeping you from doing what you love, or may in the future, you’re being wise in scheduling bunion surgery.

    I, and many Bunion Survivor readers, asked the same question before surgery. I found that taking the long view – viewing the surgery as a few months of reduced activity to gain years of pain-free motion – helped me maintain perspective and really enjoy the first downward dog in yoga I was able to do six months after surgery, especially after the surgeon had told me I’d never be able to do one again following surgery.

    We are resilient spirits in amazing bodies that know how to heal and create balance when they are honored and supported. Be good to your feet, relieve them and yourself of bunion pain, and your feet will continue to take you places you never imagined.

    Stay in touch and let me know how your surgery turned out. Mary

  7. monique on February 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm said:

    I just had both my feet done on January 31st. Today was my one week post op appointment. The bandages were taken off and i got to see my feet for the first time after surgery and bunion free!!! They are bruised and a little swollen but the doctor says im doing great. I am 31 yrs old and suffered from bunions since i was a child. Now i have a child of my own and decided it was time to get rid of this painful problem. I didnt want to miss out on anything because of these painful embarrasing feet! My surgery was a success no complications and have only taken 3 pain killers ! Yup not much pain. I heard many horror stories before so i was expecting the worst. I am walking with one crutch because i feel most comfortable with one and going up and down my stairs (very slowly) i am allowed to be on my feet for only 15min at a time and i can now wet my feet when i shower yayy!! I would recommend getting both feet done at once as long as you have someone helping you around the house for the first two weeks . Good luck and happy healing!

  8. Tina Dean on May 2, 2014 at 4:27 pm said:

    I had bunion surgery and had my second toe shortened on both feet. What a mess. Over a year later I still hobble, broke my left toe, and had to have a second surgery with no kay wire, now my second toe gets stepped on when I walk. Always in pain. Now I face a second set of surgeries. My big toe shifted and is bullying all of my toes, now I have to have pieces of bone cut out to try and straighten it out to relieve pain. I want to ask to do both at once because I already know how painful foot surgery is and I don’t want to miss four months of work. I don’t know, I wish I would have never “fixed” my feet.

  9. Bunion Survivor on August 30, 2014 at 5:19 am said:

    Pauline, congratulations! You’re a great example of successful bunion surgery and recovery. Thanks for staying in touch. Your updates are really helpful.

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