Bunion Surgery & Treatment – Topeka, Kansas

What is a bunion?

A bunion (hallux valgus) is a bone deformity that results when the big toe moves out of place, causing enlargement of the metatarsophalangeal joint at its base. The enlarged joint pushes the toe down against the shoe wall, building considerable friction and pressure. If this happens at the bottom of the little toe, it’s called a “bunionette” or “tailor’s bunion.”

What is bunion surgery?

Bunion surgery is an operation to reduce pain and correct the deformity at the base of the big toe and ball of the foot.

Painful bunions often form after stress to the joint over a prolonged period. Tight, pointed, and confining shoes cause them to be seen more in women than men. Bunions may be inherited as a family trait or result from arthritis. Different forms of arthritis often affect the big toe joint.

Dr. Timothy Gateley, DPM, is an experienced podiatrist and skilled surgeon that provides surgical and conservative treatment of foot and ankle problems, including bunions.

Before surgery is considered, Dr. Gateley approaches bunion treatment with a two-step patient care plan. First, he seeks to relieve bunion pain symptoms and callus formation caused by friction. Then, he works to stop further development of the problem.

Prescribed treatment may include:

  • A protective felt padding to shield inflamed skin from the shoe wall
  • Removal of nearby corns and calluses
  • Fitted footwear
  • Orthotic inserts
  • Nighttime splints

In some cases, a surgery called a bunionectomy might be necessary to correct the bunion completely. The goal of surgery is to relieve pain and correct as much deformity as possible. The surgery is not cosmetic and is needed to return proper function to the foot and big toe.

Other related modalities that help diagnose and plan appropriate treatment include X-rays of both feet.

Bunion Surgery FAQ

Frequently asked questions and answers about all things bunion surgery.

You may need to undergo bunion surgery for severe foot pain when walking or wearing flat, comfortable shoes. Surgery may also be required when chronic big toe inflammation and swelling aren’t relieved with rest, conservative treatment, or medications.

Other reasons for surgery include big toe drifting and causing deformity of the second toe or the inability to bend and straighten the big toe.

There may be other reasons why Dr. Gateley would recommend bunion surgery.

The specific operative procedure performed depends on the severity of the bunion deformity, age, general health, activity level, and the bones and soft tissue condition. Other factors that may influence the type of procedure you receive include:

  • Mild bunion – For this type of surgery, Dr. Gateley makes a small incision, may remove the bony bump, and realign the muscles, tendons, and ligaments surrounding the joint.
  • Moderate bunion – For a moderate bunion, our surgeon may cut the bone (chevron osteotomy) and shift it into proper alignment. Whether or not the bone cut is necessary depends on the location and severity of the deformity. In addition, the surrounding soft tissues and ligamentous structures may need to be repositioned.
  • Severe bunion – For a severe bunion, surgery may involve removing the enlarged portion of the bone, cutting and realigning the bone, and correcting the position of the tendons and ligaments. Hammer toe correction might also need to be performed.
  • Arthritic big toe joint – If the joint is damaged beyond repair, as is often seen in arthritis (hallux rigidus), it may need to be fused. A fusion allows the bones to heal together and eliminate movement and pain. Occasionally, joint replacement implants may be used in the reconstruction of the big toe joint.

A board-certified podiatric surgeon, Dr. Timothy Gateley is known for his foot and ankle surgical skill and experience. Over the years, he’s mastered the nuances of these procedures so that he consistently produces excellent results. His patients appreciate his bedside manner, attention to detail, and rave about their care.

Dr. Gateley and his staff work hard to make sure that patients are comfortable in the office and are fully confident in their choices. He is a member of the Kansas Podiatric Medical Association, and he is certified by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery.

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As with any surgical procedure, complications can happen. Some possible complications may include:

  • Joint stiffness
  • Numbness
  • Swelling
  • Delayed healing
  • Infection

Other complications may include recurrence of the bunion, numbness, nerve issues, and persistent pain. Surgery may also result in overcorrection of the problem, in which the big toe extends away from the other toes.
There may be other risk factors depending on your medical condition. Be sure to discuss any concerns with Dr. Gateley before the procedure.

  • Dr. Gateley will explain the procedure to you and offer you the chance to ask any questions you might have about the procedure.
  • You will be asked to sign a consent form that gives your permission to do the procedure. Read the form carefully and ask questions if something is not clear.
  • In addition to documenting your medical history, Dr. Gateley may ask your primary care physician to complete a physical exam to ensure that you are in good enough health to undergo the procedure. You may also be required to get blood tests or other diagnostic tests.
  • Tell Dr. Gateley or his staff if you are sensitive to or are allergic to any medicines, latex, tape, and anesthetic agents (local and general).
  • Tell Dr. Gateley or his staff about all medicines (prescribed and over-the-counter) and herbal supplements that you are taking.
  • Notify Dr. Gateley and his staff if you have a history of bleeding disorders or if you are taking any anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medicines, aspirin, or other medicines that affect blood clotting. It may be necessary for you to stop or adjust these medicines around the time of a procedure.
  • If you are pregnant or suspect that you might be, you should notify Dr. Gateley or his staff.
  • You may be asked to fast for 8 hours before the procedure, generally after midnight.
  • You may receive a sedative before the procedure to help you relax. Because the sedative may make you drowsy, you need to arrange for someone to drive you home.

Bunion surgery is almost always done on an outpatient basis and rarely requires a hospital. Procedures may vary depending on the condition and severity of your bunion deformity.

Most bunion surgery is performed under an ankle block with local anesthesia, in which your foot is numb, but you are awake. Occasionally, general or spinal anesthesia is necessary.

Generally, bunion surgery follows this process:

  1. You will be asked to remove clothing and will be given a gown to wear.
  2. You will meet nursing and anesthesia staff. They may start an intravenous (IV) line in your arm or hand.
  3. If a local anesthetic is used, you will feel a needle stick when the anesthetic is injected. This may cause a brief stinging sensation. If general anesthesia is used, you will be put to sleep using intravenous medicine.
  4. The skin over the bunion and your foot will be cleansed with an antiseptic solution.
  5. Dr. Gateley will cut, realign, and possibly remove portions of bone, ligaments, and tendons of the affected foot based upon the severity of the bunion.
  6. Dr. Gateley will close the opening with stitches and apply a sterile bandage or dressing.

After you leave the operating room, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation. The length you’re there will vary depending on the type of anesthesia you received. The circulation and sensation of your foot will be monitored. Once your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing are stable, and you are alert, you will be discharged to your home.

Dr. Gateley and his staff will provide you specific instructions for how to care for your foot during the first few weeks after surgery. You may be discharged from the surgery center wearing a special surgical shoe or cast to protect your foot.

Once at home, it’s essential to rest and keep the foot elevated on 1 or 2 pillows to help reduce pain and swelling. Dr. Gateley may also recommend that you apply ice and limit walking. Depending on your strength and mobility, you may be advised to use a walker or crutches.

Most importantly, keep the surgical dressing clean and dry. You should cover the dressing with a plastic bag and tape it with plastic tape when bathing or showering. The safest alternative is to take a sponge bath. Unless instructed differently by Dr. Gateley, keep the original surgical dressing intact until your first post-op visit with Dr. Gateley. Generally, the stitches will be removed after two weeks.

Take pain medication as recommended by Dr. Gateley. Aspirin or certain other pain medicines may increase the chance of bleeding. Be sure to take only recommended medicines. Dr. Gateley may also prescribe antibiotics to help prevent infection.

Notify Dr. Gateley and his office to report any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by Dr. Gateley and his staff
  • Redness, swelling, bleeding, or drainage from the incision site
  • Increased pain around the incision site
  • Swelling in the lower leg of the affected foot

Our surgeon will advise you as to your postoperative activity restrictions. Your foot may need continuous support from dressings or a protective boot for 6 to 8 weeks. You will need to stop driving for a week or more after surgery for your safety and others.

Physical therapy or non-weight bearing exercises may be recommended to help the foot regain strength and range of motion following surgery. High heels should be avoided for at least six months.

Dr. Gateley may give you additional or alternate instructions after the procedure, depending on your unique situation.

Dr. Gateley Will Help Get You Back On Your Feet

After surgery and recovery, our patients return to their daily activities, pursuits and life better than ever and free from foot and ankle pain.

His combination of surgical skills and caring demeanor with his patients makes Dr. Gateley one of the busiest foot and ankle surgeons in Topeka, Kansas.

If you’re ready to stop living with pain and live your best life, schedule a consultation today.

Contact us at (785) 730-3478

Gateley Podiatry | Excellence in Medical & Surgical Treatment of the Foot & Ankle | Topeka, Kansas


Dr. Gateley provides a wide range of treatment options for foot and ankle conditions. If you are interested in understanding your treatment options , please call the clinic to schedule a consultation.