Tailor’s Bunion Surgery

When a tailor’s bunion causes chronic pain that cannot be eased by conservative treatments it may be necessary to undergo tailor bunion surgery. Tailor’s bunion surgery is known as a bunionectomy (or an exostectomy). The procedure is safe although it is not usually considered until conservative treatments have proven to be ineffective.
When the deformity is severe and the little toe cannot be manipulated back into the correct position a podiatrist or doctor may recommend tailor’s bunion surgery without attempting to first treat the condition with toe spacers, orthotics or a bunion splint.

A tailor’s bunionectomy is usually a relatively minor surgical procedure in which excess bone is removed under local anesthetic. The fifth metatarsal and phalange of the little toe are repositioned and soft tissues such as ligaments may also need to be repositioned as a tailor’s bunion can cause ligaments to stretch. If there is a high degree of damage to the joint the toe bones may need to be wired or screwed in place. This will naturally restrict movement of the little toe post surgery.

Procedures Used in Tailor’s Bunion Surgery

Since a tailor’s bunion usually involves new bone being deposited around the metatarsal head and joint, part of the surgical procedure of removing a tailor’s bunion is concerned with getting rid of excess bone. This process is called arthroplasty; the name comes from the Greek words for joint (arthron) and construction (plasty). This procedure shaves part of the excess bone growth and sometimes also part of the joint itself. When it is performed on the toes or fingers the procedure is referred to as digital arthroplasty.

The other main procedure used in the treatment of tailor’s bunions is termed arthrodesis. This comes from the Greek word meaning ‘to fuse’. Arthrodesis is also known as ankylosis or syndesis. Whatever you call it, it is the process of fusing the bones of the toe and foot together. This process pins, wires or screws bones in place restricting movement of the bones.

This procedure is used when a bone has been severely damaged and the metatarsophalangeal joint cannot easily be reconstructed. Tailor’s bunion surgery can actually involve any of over 100 different surgical procedures, with each case assessed prior to surgery to determine which is likely to have the best results.

Risks of Tailor’s Bunion Surgery

The risks of tailor’s bunion surgery are relatively low and the procedure is usually performed on an outpatient basis. In many cases it will only take a surgeon an hour or less to complete the procedure. Even though the risk from a tailor’s bunionectomy is low, the procedure is usually offered to a patient until a number of conservative treatments have been explored. Conservative treatments can see a patient recover up to 90% of the time.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Having a Tailor’s Bunionectomy Performed

The main benefits of tailor bunion surgery over non-invasive treatments are that the bones can be easily realigned and the problem corrected quickly. Even with the high success rate of conservative bunion treatments the condition may return in a matter of months or years if the causative factors are not also addressed. With surgery, these causes may be eliminated lowering the probability of a recurrence of the condition.

On the downside there is a risk of problems associated with the anesthetic, and also there is no guarantee that the procedure will actually be 100% successful. It may not be possible to restore full functionality to the toe. Movement many be restricted and the patient may continue to experience pain.

Post Bunionectomy Outlook

Tailor’s bunion surgery recovery time varies from patient to patient. Usually a patient will need to spend a couple of days resting the foot with no weight bearing activity, and a couple of weeks of using a crutch is advisable. The toes can feel bruised and painful after surgery and may throb and ache for some time. The area will be inflamed post tailor’s bunion surgery, and the surgeon may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection in addition to anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers.
Surgery can leave the feet feeling uncomfortable for a number of days. Tailor bunion removal involves a shorter recovery period than bit toe bunion surgery. Even so, you should be prepared to wait for at least 6 weeks post surgery before returning to sports or high impact activities to ensure the bones have properly healed.
If the bunion was the result of flat feet or high arches, wearing orthotic insoles will help to ensure that the bunion does not return.