Consider these 5 Recommendations to Follow Before Your First Appointment with a Bunion Surgeon

After meeting with my podiatrist and interviewing several readers about their experience, here are five of the most important rules to follow before your first appointment.

1.  Make decisions for the right reasons. Long-term health first. Then best time. Then money. I realized that I was letting my financial/time constraints make my decision and keep me from seeking a 2nd and 3rd opinion. I had reservations about moving forward so quickly within just a few weeks with only one doctor’s perspective, but I told myself I had to do it “now” because the pain in my foot was getting worse, I had a limited window of time, and spending extra money on 2nd and 3rd opinions wasn’t necessary. Live and learn. But now you don’t have to because you can learn from my mistakes and lessons learned as well as my good choices.

It’s your health and your feet that you’ll live with for the rest of your life, not a car or a house that you can trade up or sell. When I make the decision again, I will choose for my long-term health first, then time, then money.

Rather than stress yourself out by waiting until the last minute, work backwards from your best outcome (healthy feet as you grow older and time to enjoy your life). Plan ahead for how much time off and how much money you will need for surgery and recovery time and create a savings account just for that “project” so you make your decisions for the right reasons.

2.  Give yourself extra preparation time. How much time have you allowed yourself to do your research and make a decision? The last thing you want to do is feel like you’re making a rushed decision (like I did) and then end up wishing you done things differently after your surgery.

Take your time researching. I recommend the following:

  • Month 1:

o   Research and read about bunion surgery and doctors. Ask for referrals from friends.

o   Plan the best time for your surgery

  • Month 2:

o   Interview three doctors. Include a podiatrist and an orthopedic surgeon.

o   Be sure that each one isn’t recommended by the previous doctors you’ve seen.

o   Ask them how far ahead you need to schedule surgery so that it fits in your best time window.

  • Month 3:

o   Choose your doctor based on how confident and safe you felt with their answers to the questions you’ve asked.

o   Call the doctor’s office and give the scheduling team your best surgery date options. Remember it’s your life you’re working around first, then your doctor’s schedule.

3.  Do your homework. Answer these questions before you make your first appointment:

  • Who have you gotten your referrals from? If you used the Internet or Yellow Pages, promise me that you will not schedule surgery with that surgeon until you have talked with at least 3, preferably 5 of his clients. I know it’s an inconvenience to ask but this is your body, your mobility, and the rest of your life you’re making a decision about. Be conscious and protective of yourself.
  • How much research have you done online watching videos and looking at different doctor’s websites?
  • What do you know about your doctor’s success rate? If the doctor you’re considering doesn’t have a website, can you “drop by” to get a feel for their office environment? Are you keeping notes on each doctor you’ve been referred to?
  • Ask questions. Write out your questions and ask other bunion survivors what questions they wished they’d asked their doctor before surgery. Take your list of questions with you to each appointment and check off each question as you ask it and get an answer.
  • If your doctor pressures you into making a quick decision or makes you feel uneasy, take a deep breath, and sleep on it. You want to make your decision based on your needs and schedule, as much as when the surgery suite is available or when your doctor is taking a vacation.

 4.  Take the time to look for a doctor in your immediate area before you sign on with one from out of town. I found my surgeon by doing what you and a lot of people are doing now – searching the internet for information. His online infomercial followed by his high tech in-person presentation, his obvious perfectionism and the testimony from three women in the waiting room who said he’d been their 2nd or 3rd opinion was so compelling.

I wasn’t motivated to do more research than make two last-minute calls to other doctors, both of whom I was told by their receptionists couldn’t see me until after my surgery date was scheduled for this doctor, hence why I suggest starting your research 3-6 months in advance of your surgery window. Having options builds confidence.

I drove 90 minutes one way to go to my surgeon because of his excellent reputation and because I had two time windows I was working with – my business slow time which is summer and my insurance deductible for the year – I chose his reputation for excellence over more research to find someone comparable in my city because I hadn’t planned enough ahead of time. As I learned after the fact, there are several competent doctors in my city and had I used any one of them, I would have saved hundreds of dollars in gas, hours of stressful driving time, and had more people to help me in my immediate community.

If you live in a rural area and/or can’t find a doctor you resonate with in your city, by all means, if you can afford the time and extra expense, and have a caregiver who can support you, it doesn’t matter where they are located. But if time, money and/or support are key factors, give yourself 3-6 months of planning time for your surgery so you can make the decision from strength rather than stress.

5.  Always have a Plan B for everything, especially your 24-hours-after-surgery-person, especially if you’re single. As soon as I knew my surgery date, I contacted a friend who confirmed she was available to take me to the surgical center and could be my caregiver for 24 hours after. We locked in the dates on our calendars and I relaxed, grateful for her and to have plans taken care of. Four days before surgery I called to reconfirm the details of my plans with her. She said that a day earlier she was offered consulting work (she’s self-employed)and  that she wouldn’t be able to help me. Panic set in. I scrambled, called other people and no one was available. I assumed I’d have to cancel my surgery. This is not what you want a few days before surgery. Have a Plan B strategy and person.

Fortunately, because my friend is incredibly creative and caring, she heard my concern, called me back and came up with a new plan. She’d pick me up, drop me off at the surgical center, get her nails done while waiting, return to pick me up and we go a day early to the hotel she was staying at during her consulting project. I would stay in her room, with room service and housekeepers to check on me. It turned out amazingly well, however, if that hadn’t worked out I would have had to cancel my surgery because as a single self-employed person with no children or family in town and working from a home office, I had no one else to care for me at the last minute.

If I had it to do over again, I would have done more research, and more importantly, I would have gone to a podiatrist at the first sign of pain and twisting toes, not waited the two years I did to take action. It would have saved me surgery on my second toe and all the complications that have come with that. Take care of your feet. You’re worth it.


These 5 key actions are just the beginning.
If you found this report helpful, keep reading, keep asking questions,
and take action before you experience more pain.

Plan ahead and get the answers you need and deserve before you need them. 
I’ve done the footwork for you.

Order the 160-page ebook  today
Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery and Recovery
and receive the following additional checklists and reports for free:

  • Weekly and Monthly Bunion Surgery and Recovery Planning Checklist for steps to take before and after your surgery to keep you stress-free, relaxed, and comfortable. (This checklist alone is worth the price of your first doctor’s appointment.)
  • 25 Critical Questions to Ask Your Podiatrist or Orthopedic Surgeon Before You Schedule Bunion Surgery
  • 10 Powerful Tips for a Successful  First Meeting with Your Bunion Doctor

Reg $27    $9.95

As part of my commitment to you as a subscriber of BunionSurvivor.com, I am always researching different forums and websites to stay current with the best ways to help you free your feet and inspire your spirit.

This week I learned that the doctor who did my bunion surgery, whom I reported in my blog and ebook to be an excellent surgeon but arrogant and disrespectful back in 2006, and bordering on negligent in the way he responded to me during consultations, had his license suspended in 2007 and was put on probation for 8 years for negligence. I hadn’t reported him, nor did it occur to me to do so. But someone else did and it was serious enough to be taken seriously.

MEDICAL BOARD REVIEW   If you need to check out your doctor and you live in California, you can do a search on the California Medical Board website with your doctor’s name and if there’s been a medical review issue, you will find it. (Thank goodness for all the high-integrity physicians serving us, but it is shocking to see how many doctors are listed for medical suspensions and reprimands.) This service is also available in other states.ACTION STEPS   I don’t know about you, but if I learned about this kind of documented information about a physician I has previously considered but hadn’t used yet, I would not use him no matter how great of a surgeon s/he was. If I was in dire straits and had no other option for a surgeon due to location or insurance or finances, I would not move forward unless I had a one-on-one face-to-face conversation about the situation with the surgeon and talked to at least three of his most current clients and felt in my gut that this person had changed their ways. (I do believe people can change given enough reason and support socially and spiritually.)

This is why having a list of questions is so important! In my special report “25 Questions To Ask Your Bunion Surgeon Before Scheduling Bunion Surgery,” there are three questions (#23-25) that address this issue and were added because of my concerns even prior to learning about my doctor’s medical suspension. I urge you to ACT NOW if you’re considering having surgery and ASK THE QUESTIONS to get the best results for yourself. Your health and your life could depend on it. 

These last three questions are not for the faint of heart, however, they will ensure that you have as much information as possible before you make your decision and they will give you a sense of your surgeon’s professionalism. Take a deep breath and remember this is your feet and life we’re talking about keeping healthy. You are worth it!

23.    What is the safety record in the past year of the facility where I will have my surgery?

    24.    Have you had any malpractice suits against you or medical reprimands? How long ago? What were the issues? What were the outcomes?

    25.    When things haven’t worked out or you’ve had an unhappy patient, how have you handled it?

If you’d like this special report with all “25 Questions to Ask Your Bunion Surgeon  for free as well as 2 other important bunion health reports, check out my “Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery and Recovery.”
As always, I welcome your comments. Here’s to your happy, healthy feet! Mary
PS. In addition to the 25 Questions List, get my ebook and you’ll also receive a Bunion Surgery and Recovery Planning Month-by-Month Checklist  so you don’t end up stressing about what you should have done and can relax and heal successfully after surgery. You can get all this with my ebook “Bunion Survivor’s Guide to Successful Bunion Surgery and Recovery.” There’s no risk – if you don’t find at least one helpful idea, return it within 30 days for a full refund. Guaranteed.

Did you know there are over 100 types of bunion surgery?! Now, maybe you’ll understand why I’ve hedged about defining different surgeries on the Bunion Relief Blog — the possibility of error in description is better left to your surgeon. However, I just ran across a good overview of the general types of bunion surgery in an article on bunion surgery published by Blue Shield of California.

“There are over 100 surgeries for bunions. Research does not indicate which type of surgery is best—surgery needs to be specific to your condition. More than one procedure may be done at the same time.

“The general types of bunion surgery are:

  • Removal of part of the metatarsal head (the part of the foot that is bulging out). This procedure is called exostectomy or bunionectomy.
  • Realignment of the soft tissues (ligaments) around the big toe joint.
  • Removal of a small wedge of bone from the foot (metatarsal osteotomy) or from the toe (phalangeal osteotomy).
  • Removal of bone from the end of the first metatarsal bone, which joins with the base of the big toe (metatarsophalangeal joint). At the metatarsophalangeal joint, both the big toe and metatarsal bones are reshaped (resection arthroplasty).
  • Fusion (arthrodesis) of the big toe joint.
  • Fusion of the joint where the metatarsal bone joins the mid-foot (Lapidus procedure).
  • Implant insertion of all or part of an artificial joint.”
  • Read more

Whatever type of surgery you and your surgeon determine is best for you, you want a surgeon who has experience in a variety of procedures, which ensures you’ll get the best option from a surgeon who is selecting from several choices rather than one-procedure-fits-all.

Be sure to ask:

1. What different types of bunion surgery procedures have you done in the past six months?

2. How many of the procedure you’re recommending for me have you done in the past month? Past six months?

I don’t know about you, but I want a surgeon who has performed the surgery they’re suggesting dozens of times with excellent results before experimenting or perfecting their skill on me.

If you’ve had this conversation with your doctor, I’m curious to know what you discovered. Please share your comments below and if you know the specific procedure they’re recommending or that you’ve had done, please let us know.

Questions to ask your orthopedic physician [or podiatrist]:

  • What are my treatment options? What are the pros and cons of each option?
  • How long will the treatment take? How will it affect my daily activities?
  • What will my recovery involve? How long will recovery take?
  • Are there any brochures I can read or web sites I can visit for more information?

If your orthopedist [or podiatrist] recommends surgery:

  • What is involved in the surgery? * How long will I be in the hospital?
  • (If not your orthopedist) Who will perform the surgery?
  • Can I meet him/her? * What can I expect after the surgery?
  • Will I need further treatment (such as physical therapy, splints, medications)?
  • What will happen if I don’t have the surgery now?
  • What are my alternatives? * If I want a second opinion, whom can I consult?
  • How many similar procedures has the surgeon performed? What are the outcomes?
*Adapted from UCSD Medical Center: Orthopedics: What To Ask Your Orthopedist

Use the above list when you’re interviewing doctors. If you’re not getting answers you like, get a 2nd or 3rd or 4th opinion. Trust your fact and your intuition.

I wish I’d found this site before my surgery.  There are several questions I didn’t think to ask. It’s so important to bring a list of questions to each appointment and check them off as you get your answers.

25 Critical Questions to Ask Your Bunion Surgeon

Day 3 – 67 hours after surgery. My first post op visit. I walk into the consultation room and notice an evaluation form on a clipboard with a pen. I look it over and decide to fill it out when I get home. I have more to say than answering a few yes/no questions.

First of all…Oh my God!!! A new foot! Could it really be mine?! Wait til you see it without tape! Unbelievable! Truly. This is ART with a capital “A!”

When the foot assistant cuts away the last bandages I am so blown away I feel light-headed and think I’m going to faint . (It may have also been watching on an empty stomach and that a little fresh blood was still visible as the tape was being removed that made me queasy.)

I wait for the doctor to check my foot. In he comes, smiles (yay!) and says, “Hi. How are you?”

I smile and he immediately sits on a stool and reviews my foot. “Oh. Beautiful! Do you feel any pain?”


“Do you want to be on video? We have videographers here today?”

I say nothing. In fact, I’m feeling a little annoyed that he’s so quick to ask me to be in his video. I need a little more positive reinforcement and analysis before I say yes. And what about quid pro quo? I’ve spent a lot of year paying health insurance to have this done and it’s still $1500.00 out of my pocket.

And what long term results? I’m not ready to unequivocally jump up and down (literally or figuratively) based on the fact that I have little to no pain right now. The jury is still out until I’m walking on my foot with no support and everything working as it should be.

He doesn’t push. There’s an uncomfortable silence for me. He continues, “They wanted me to take the word “painless” out of my advertising so that’s why we have these evaluations now, so that we have proof that it is painless.”

Compared to others whose stories I’ve heard who haven’t used this doctor, it was virtually painless. Granted, I’ve followed his instructions, as he strongly urged, to the letter. I also have taken 1/2 of a 5 mg vicoden tablet from the prescription he gave me for the 2nd and 3rd nights just before bed so I could sleep through the night. The first night was a little weird. I have a slight ache just below my little toe off an on for a few hours with a lot of buzzing and tingling in the numb areas of my big toe and 2nd toe as my foot regained its feeling so I didn’t sleep much that night.

All that said, I am REALLY PLEASED with the initial results and I tell him so. “You did an amazing job! And my experience with you in pre-op surgery was great! Your team was great! Thank you! You know, you are a different person in the surgical suite than you are in the consultation room. You were easier and more upbeat just before surgery. You should bring that into this room. You have a great smile and it really helps me feel more comfortable about what you’re doing.

He listens and I see a slight smile. No resistance. I feel heard. I feel grateful. He begins to tape and wrap my foot. My eyes keep noticing that my third toe is now tilting skyward and resting on top of my 2nd toe. I feel annoyed and ask about it.

The doctor looks equally annoyed by my question and says these toes will all lay flat when I’m putting my weight on them.

Okay…”And what about when I’m resting?” I ask. No answer. Hmm…I ask him to make sure they’ll all be in alignment regardless of how my foot is positioned.

“If it’s a problem I can fix it when you come back to get your screws taken out.”

“If I’m going to go through all this, I expect to have the problem corrected without additional problems created. What can you do now to prevent that from happening?” I can tell he’s annoyed.

He says nothing and finishes wrapping my foot. And I’m thinking I should be more grateful.

“Look, you’re a great surgeon and a perfectionist,” I say. “I’m glad you are. I’m a perfectionist too and I want a perfect foot with perfect toes.”

He sits down and wraps my third toe so it lays flat with the others. Then he shows me a toe exercise and says to bend the big toe forward and backwards 3 times at least 5 times day. (Or was it 5 times 3 times a day?) He gets up and walks out and into another room. I hear him with a smile in his voice, “Hi, how are you?”

He returns. “Did they take your post op photos?”

“No. But I have my camera. Would you take a picture?”

He snaps a shot without question. I notice his hands. His skin is so smooth. So are his nails and cuticles. His hands are beautiful. I tell him he should see the bronze hand sculpture exhibit at Baylor University Medical Center done by a hand surgeon. His belong there.

He smiles. He gets up again to leave. I think of a million more questions. “How much bone did you take out of my second toe?” (I should have had a list of questions.)

“It was art!” He lights up and stands up.”There was no machine measurement here. This is art. I held the bone up for 10 minutes so everyone could see it! It was about the thickness of this.” He points to one side of a medical tweezer that is as thin as a piece of foil.”

I am in the presence of a great artist and I know it. But…”Why is my 2nd toe so limp? It’s like it’s just hanging there.”

“When I shortened the bone, the ligaments have more room now. Don’t touch it. Just let it heal.”

“Will the ligaments get tight again or is it always going to be this floppy?” I think I see him nod yes. I am distracted…

He looks beyond me and picks up a website magazine that I brought from the waiting room to read that is now sitting on top of my purse on the table next to the examining chair I’m sitting in. He starts browsing through it. “I’ve got to read this.”

I feel anger rising inside me. DO NOT DISMISS ME! I try to find my sense of humor. Yoo hoo. Foot is over here, I think. “Would you clarify those exercises again for me?” I say, realizing that he’s already moved on and I still have more questions to which I want answers.

“They are in your post op instructions.”

“Not in the ones I have.”

He looks surprised and looks at an assistant standing in the hallway. “Oh, that’s right.” He looks at him again and says, “Get those exercises in the instructions.” He looks at me again. He has moved on. He says, “Did you get your pictures?”


“Get her pictures for her.”

A flurry ensues. The doctor goes into another room. “Hi. How are you?”

An assistant hands me a stack of cards. I look at my before and after photos. OH MY GOD! My before picture looks like a claw. My after photo looks like a Botticelli painting! At least in comparison. 🙂 I can’t stop staring at it.

I laugh out loud when I look at the back of the cards. His business card. What a brilliant marketing strategy.

Now if he could only dial in the bedside manner during consultations to go with the spectacular surgical skill, artistry, and creative marketing, that would heaven on earth. Is that asking too much?

Perhaps for some. And for those who believe in continual improvement and going from good to great, or in this case from great to greater, what I’m talking about adding is that extra 1% that turns momentary magic into legendary mastery.

Whew! Am I being too hard on him? I guess it’s time to walk my own talk.

Stretch up 1, 2, 3, stretch down 1, 2, 3. Was that three times stretches five times a day or five stretches three times a day?