Cost & Price Overview of Bunion Surgery
Bunion surgery costs average $3,000 to $4,700, depending on the complexity of the procedure and where the patient lives. The average cost of bunion surgery nationwide is $3,263. The lowest prices for this type of surgery tend to be in the southern US with costs averaging $3900, while the east and west coasts have the highest fees averaging $4,600.
Bunions are a painful condition of the foot and are often the result of wearing shoes that are too narrow, have high heels or a combination of both. The constant stress on the tendon in the upper-mid foot of the big toe cannot contract properly since there is not enough room in the shoe for the toe to flex properly. Instead of flexing upward when walking, the toe pushes toward the second toe mis-aligning the joint. While there are many bunion treatments available, such as new shoes, anti-inflammatory drugs, or orthotics, some sufferers only find relief through surgery.
Why Have Bunion Surgery?
Surgery is generally performed by a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon. Studies cited by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons show an 85% – 90% post-surgery satisfaction rate. Surgery is not considered the first line of treatment for bunions. Surgery is generally only considered under the following circumstances:
- The pain limits the patient’s daily activities.
- The big toe is chronically inflamed and the inflammation is not responding to rest or medication.
- The toe no longer able to bend or straighten.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs no longer provide relief from bunion pain.
- All other treatments, including orthotics, shoe changes and anti-inflammatory drugs, fail to resolve the pain.
Types of Surgery
There are five types of surgery available to correct bunions. The surgeon will determine which type of surgery is best based on the deformity and other factors such as the patient’s age and physical condition.
- Repair of Tendons and Ligaments. This surgery shortens the ligaments that have become too loose and loosens the tendons and ligaments that are too tight to realign the toe into proper position.
- Arthrodesis. In this procedure, the surgeon removes the damaged surfaces of the joint and inserts metal screws or plates to hold the joint together until it has completely healed. This procedure is only used in patients with severe arthritis, serious structural deformities or when other procedures fail.
- Exostectomy. This procedure removes only the bump from the outer edge of the toe if the toe has not drifted. It is rarely used since it does not address the cause of the bunion.
- Resection Arthroplasty. This procedure “creates a flexible ‘scar’ joint” by removing the damaged part of the joint (orthoino.aaos.org). This is generally done in older patients, those with serious arthritis, or who have had previously unsuccessful bunion surgery.
- Osteotomy. This procedure surgically cuts and realigns the joint.
Bunion Surgery Cost Breakdown
The cost of bunion surgery is broken down into three components.
- Surgical Repair/Physician’s Fee. This fee includes the physician’s charge to do the procedure and any post-operative care that is required.
- Facility Services. Bunion surgery is generally performed in an outpatient surgery center. This fee includes pre-operative testing, operating room fees, supplies and any medications that are provided during the surgery.
- Anesthesia Services. Anesthesia is generally billed separately and includes the time the anesthesiologist is administering anesthesia and any pre or post-operative services.
Surgery is a serious undertaking and patients should discuss all their options with their doctor prior to any procedure. However, for those unable to find relief from non-surgical options, bunion surgery may be the best way to become pain free.