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Foot Surgery - What to Expect?

Hospital Stay

Most foot surgery can be performed as day case procedures (admitted and discharged on the same day), but on occasions I’ll admit you over-night. You will have a general anaesthetic (so you will need a driver), and while you’re asleep, I will give you an “ankle block” (your foot will be numbed). When on the ward, we commence painkillers orally, to overlap with the ankle block, so your pain should be well controlled at all times.

You will be reviewed by our physiotherapist, who will show you how to use crutches, which on occasions are necessary for six weeks following your surgery. With Hallux Valgus surgery for example, I will have caused breaks to the bones of your foot and these will need time to heal in their new positions.

Upon Discharge

Following surgery your foot will be in a special dressing and you will be given a stiff shoe with Velcro adjustable straps to accommodate any swelling. You can rest the foot on the ground for balance, but you must avoid putting any weight on it for about 6 weeks.

Follow Up

I typically see patients at 10 – 14 days after their surgery, to remove the bulky dressing, inspect the wounds, remove sutures if necessary and reapply a specific dressing to maintain the correction. I see you again at 6 weeks to review a new x-ray and remove the dressings. If all is well, you can wear a wide fitting loose shoe at this stage and start putting weight on the foot, if you’re able.

After the 6 week stage

Swelling and stiffness in the foot is the norm. Your foot will not feel natural and your skin will be dry. You can start moisturising your skin and massaging your scars. I encourage exercises such as picking a scarf up from the floor, to activate your foot muscles, and rolling your foot on a golf-ball, to encourage any swelling to resolve. You can wear wide fitting shoes such as Crocs, but it may take a number of weeks or even months before the swelling settles, and your foot can accommodate a normal shoe. In general I suggest to patients that it takes 3 months to get back to normal following a significant foot reconstruction.

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