Foot Bunion Surgery in Singapore

Written by Dr Gowreeson Thevendran, MBChB (Bristol), MRCS.Ed, Dip. Sports Med.Ed, FRCS.Ed (Trauma & Ortho. ), FAMS (Singapore)

What Are Bunions?

Bunions, more commonly seen in women, are a prevalent foot deformity characterised by an enlarged bony bump at the base of the big toe. This condition arises when the big toe starts pushing against the second toe, leading to pressure on the big toe joint. As a result, the toes may develop an abnormal curve, and the foot may experience soreness. Bunions can be hereditary or caused by external factors such as wearing ill-fitting shoes or prolonged periods of standing with poor posture..

Symptoms of Bunions

The presence of bunions is typically marked by several symptoms, including inflammation and pain around the big toe joint and a noticeable enlargement near the second toe. Discomfort is often felt when wearing shoes. It's important to note that bunion symptoms can be similar to those of other foot conditions, like ganglion cysts, arthritis, or feet misalignment. To accurately diagnose and receive effective treatment for bunions, consulting with an orthopaedic specialist in Singapore is recommended.

Immediate Self-Care for Bunions

Once you have a bunion, try reducing the pressure on your foot by using supports in your shoe and switching to wider footwear. Your shoes may, however, rub against the bunion when the deformity grows bigger, further causing calluses and blisters. You can also try conventional treatments to provide pain relief for your bunions.

Causes of Bunions

The exact cause of bunions is not definitively known, but several contributing factors are widely recognised. These include:

  • Inherited Foot Type: Genetics may play a role in the development of bunions.
  • Foot Stress or Injuries: Repetitive stress or specific injuries to the foot can contribute to bunion formation.
  • Congenital Deformities: Some individuals are born with foot deformities that predispose them to bunions.
  • Footwear: There is some debate among experts about the role of footwear in causing bunions. Tight, high-heeled, or narrow shoes may not directly cause bunions but could exacerbate the condition.
  • Arthritis: Certain types of arthritis, particularly inflammatory ones like rheumatoid arthritis, might be associated with the development of bunions.

Diagnosing Bunions

Diagnosing bunions typically involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, and imaging tests:

  • Medical History: Doctors will inquire about the onset of the bunion, any associated pain, family history of bunions, types of shoes worn regularly, and occupation-related foot stress.
  • Physical Exam: A thorough examination of the foot is usually sufficient to diagnose a bunion. This includes assessing changes in the bone structure of the big toe, checking for pain or restricted motion, and observing gait and weight distribution across the foot.
  • X-ray Imaging: For more severe cases, X-rays can reveal the extent of the misalignment and any impact on other foot bones.
  • Ultrasound: If symptoms like tingling or numbness are present, ultrasound may be used to examine nerve inflammation between the foot bones.
  • MRI Scan: Recommended in cases where bone structure changes might have caused additional damage like stress fractures or nerve inflammation. MRI provides detailed images of soft tissues and bones.

Early diagnosis by an orthopaedic surgeon is crucial for effective bunion treatment before more severe symptoms develop.

Bunion Surgery

Bunion surgery, also known as metatarsal osteotomy, is a specialised corrective procedure aimed at treating bunions. This surgery is typically recommended when non-surgical methods, such as changes in footwear, use of orthotics, and pain management, are insufficient in relieving severe symptoms including pain, inflammation, or difficulty in walking.

During the procedure, the surgeon makes small incisions near the bunion to remove the enlarged bone portion, along with any affected ligaments and tendons from the toe. The process may involve cutting and realigning bones, repairing tendons and ligaments, or removing damaged tissue. To ensure proper healing and maintain the bones in their new alignment, the surgeon might use pins, screws, or plates.

Recovery Period for Bunions

Following bunion surgery, patients typically spend a short time in a recovery room before discharge. In the weeks immediately after the procedure, some pain, swelling, and discomfort are common. To aid the healing process, a special shoe or boot is required to protect the foot, along with bandaging. 

Elevating the foot helps reduce swelling, and mobility aids like crutches or a walker might be necessary for a few days or weeks. Physical therapy is often recommended to improve range of motion and reduce stiffness. Complete functional restoration can span several months.

Dr. Gowreeson Thevendran

Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery Specialist in Singapore with 15+ Years Experience

Dr. Gowreeson Thevendran is a fellowship-trained orthopaedic surgeon specialising in minimally invasive techniques for the foot, ankle, knee, hip, and thigh, as well as in trauma and fracture surgery. With his extensive training from the UK to Canada, he is a leader in both the operating room and global orthopaedic education.

Why Do Patients Choose Dr. Gowreeson Thevendran?

Fellowship-trained in foot & ankle surgery, sports surgery, and complex trauma.

Fluent in English, Malay, and Tamil, allowing for diverse patient communication.

Expertise in minimally invasive surgical techniques.

Specialises in comprehensive lower limb orthopaedics and trauma surgery.

Recipient of multiple awards, including the SICOT PIONEER Founders Award.

Chair of the Education Academy of SICOT, enhancing global orthopaedic education.

Introduced Magnezix bioabsorbable screws in Singapore, leading advancements in surgical materials.

Renowned for his scientific contributions and roles as an international faculty member.

Committed to detailed aftercare plans for long-term patient recovery.

Part of Healthway Medical Group, offering convenience and excellence in orthopaedic treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions about Bunion Treatment & Surgery in Singapore

1Does insurance and medisave cover bunion treatment?
In Singapore, bunion treatments, including surgery, are often covered by health insurance plans and can be paid for using Medisave. However, coverage can vary depending on your specific insurance policy and the details of your Medisave account. It's important to consult with your healthcare provider and insurance company to understand the extent of coverage for your bunion treatment.
2What happens if the bunion is left untreated?

If left untreated, bunions can lead to permanent foot deformity, chronic pain, and difficulty in walking due to pressure on foot ligaments. Untreated bunions increase the risk of developing bursitis, hammer toe, and metatarsalgia. While conservative treatments like proper footwear and orthotics are first recommended, surgery may become necessary if these methods do not relieve pain or if the bunion causes significant deformity, walking difficulties, nerve damage, or arthritis. It's crucial to consult a foot and ankle specialist to determine the need for surgery and discuss treatment options.

3Can the bunion come back after surgery?
Yes, there is a possibility of bunions returning even after surgery, particularly due to genetic factors. To prevent recurrence, post-surgical care is important. This may include physical rehabilitation, wearing removable splints, using custom orthotics, and making lifestyle changes, such as choosing appropriate footwear. Following your surgeon's recommendations carefully during recovery is crucial in reducing the likelihood of bunions redeveloping.
4What are the risks and complications of bunion surgery?
Risks associated with bunion surgery include infection, nerve damage, excessive swelling, poor wound or bone healing, stiffness of the big toe joint, and the possibility of the bunion recurring. It's essential to discuss these risks with your surgeon before the procedure and follow their post-operative care instructions closely to minimise complications.
5How long does bunion surgery take?
Bunion surgery typically takes about one to two hours to complete. It is usually performed as an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home on the same day of the surgery. The duration can vary depending on the complexity of the bunion and the specific surgical technique used.

Clinic Location


OrthofootMD@Mount Alvernia Hospital

Dr Gowreeson Thevendran is currently an orthopaedic surgeon with Island Orthopaedic, a one-stop care centre for orthopaedic health under Healthway Medical Group. He specialises in treating lower limb orthopaedic conditions, as well as trauma and fracture surgery of both the upper and lower limbs. Prior to establishing his private practice, Dr Gowreeson was Chief of Foot & Ankle Surgery at the Department of Orthopaedics at Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH). Today, he continues to serve the Orthopaedic Department at TTSH as a visiting consultant.

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