How long is the recovery after foot surgery?
Paul J. Switaj, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
The healing process after flat foot surgery depends on the type of surgery being done. Watch Paul Switaj, MD from Reston Hospital Center elaborate on the process in this video.
Brian A. Weatherby, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Recovery after foot surgery can be extremely variable. It will depend on the exact type of foot procedure the patient has undergone. Recovery also depends on what types of physical activities the patient desires to undertake.
For example, if a patient has a midfoot or subtalar fusion (fusing the heel bone to the ankle bone) then they will be non-weightbearing in a cast with assist device (crutches, knee scooter) for 8 weeks, followed by progressive weight bearing in a CAM boot for 4 weeks. They will therefore be able to walk in a loosely laced shoe by 12 weeks, but only for simple, regular activities of daily living. It will take about 5-6 months for the patient to return to any type of exercise or impact activity.
In contrast, if a patient undergoes a Chevron bunionectomy (where the first metatarsal is cut and shifted) then they can walk in a hard sole sandal within 3-4 days of surgery. They are seen in the office at 1 week to have the dressing changed, at 2 weeks for suture removal and toe strapping, at 4 weeks for strapping, and at 6 weeks for strapping. At 6 weeks the patient begins wearing a toe spacer during the day and bunion brace at night (which is done for 4 weeks) to protect the ligament repair, along with weaning back into a wide toe box, sneaker type shoe. The patient should expect some degree of foot swelling for 4 months since the foot is the lowest part of the body and thus, the anatomical area that is most subject to the effects of gravity. Women can usually expect to wear heels at 3 months. Patients can begin stationary bike and swimming at 6 weeks, running/aerobics/sport activities at 3 months.
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Christopher Chiodo, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
Because the foot has so many bones, joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels, foot surgery can be lengthy, and recovery may take longer than you'd expect. As with any operation, foot surgery involves risks such as infection, nerve injury, postoperative pain, scar formation, and complications from anesthesia. Even so, there are times when foot surgery is your best option. Modern advances in surgical techniques and equipment have significantly improved outcomes for patients. But don't book that tennis match right away. Although your problem might be fixed, remember that full recovery from any surgical procedure on the foot takes time. Most healing occurs within the first several weeks after surgery, but it may take as long as three to six months, and sometimes more, depending on the procedure, before the injured area is strong enough to take on high-impact activities.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.