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Can a bunion grow back after bunion surgery?

Dr. Neal Blitz

“I had bunion surgery to shave down a bunion a few years ago, but it looks like it’s coming back. Is that possible, and how do I keep it from happening again?”

It’s not uncommon for bunions to come back, even if you’ve had a bunionectomy. In fact, they’re more likely to recur if your bunion surgery was simply to shave down the bone, as opposed to a procedure like a lapidus bunionectomy or other method of realigning the bones of the foot. 

Why would a shaved bunion grow back after Bunionectomy?

The answer is simple: because bunion surgery isn’t just about getting rid of the bump. Many people believe a bunion is simply an overgrowth of bone, but it’s more than that. 

A bunion forms because the big toe joint has shifted, and a bone called the metatarsal has slowly moved out of place and started pushing out against the skin. That’s what causes the bump. Shaving doesn’t fix the position of the bones, so the poor alignment (or “malalignment”) grows worse over time. That allows the metatarsal bone to start pushing against the skin again, making the bump reappear.

What is the right way to perform bunion surgery?

In order to properly correct a bunion, the surgeon needs to reposition the poorly aligned bones. In Dr. Blitz’s experience, it’s best to treat recurring bunions with the procedure called the lapidus bunionectomy, or lapidus arthrodesis. This lapidus procedure fixes the root of the problem in the underlying bone, returning it to its proper position. 

Dr. Blitz usually recommends the lapidus bunionectomy as a “first line of defense” bunion surgery, simply because he finds that it has a low rate of recurrence. But the good news is that even when bunions do recur after a lapidus procedure, they can still be corrected successfully. 

To help prevent recurrence of a bunion after bunion surgery, Dr. Blitz and his staff develop a treatment plan for each patient and their foot or feet.

Dr. Neal Blitz
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