Brachymetatarsia, otherwise known as a short toe, is a foot condition caused by stunted growth of one of the metatarsal bones in the foot. The fourth toe is most commonly affected, but other toes can be as well. If you’re considering surgery for this condition, toe lengthening surgery recovery time is something you should get familiar with. Let’s talk about the basics of what you can expect after this minimally invasive procedure.
How Does Toe Lengthening Surgery Procedure Go?
Toe lengthening surgery is a minimally invasive procedure that can be performed in under one hour. It’s most commonly done under local anesthesia. Surgeons can use different techniques to lengthen a short toe – here are the most popular surgical methods:
- Brachymetatarsia external fixator lengthening – This procedure is used to insert the external fixator that will help stretch the bone. The surgeon cuts the metatarsal bone and inserts the device between the segments. The patient has to turn the fixator four times a day, and this is done until the desired toe length is reached. After that, the bone is left to heal, and the fixator can be removed.
- Sliding bone-cut lengthening – This technique is used only when there is no need for excessive lengthening because it has limited effect. The surgeon cuts the metatarsal bone under an angle and then slides it – this results in a longer toe. Screws or metal plates are used to secure everything in place.
- Bone-graft lengthening – The toe is lengthened by placing the bone graft in the short metatarsal bone. The graft usually comes from the patient’s heel bone. This technique is only effective if the lengthening needs to be less than one centimeter.
What Are the Risks and Benefits of Toe Lengthening Surgery?
The benefits of this procedure are numerous. Apart from providing cosmetic improvement to your feet, toe lengthening surgery will allow you to have better balance and posture, and it will make weight-bearing easier. Still, it would be false to claim that this surgery doesn’t come with some risks, even though the complications are rare. Problems that may occur after surgery include infection, poor wound healing, and nerve damage.
What Is the Toe Lengthening Surgery Recovery Time?
Although this is a minimally invasive procedure, it will take you a bit of time to recover from it. Depending on what technique is used to lengthen your toe, it will take you six to eight weeks to recover in full. You will have to stay off your feet during this period. In some cases, wearing a cast is necessary – this can last for up to three months.
What Factors Affect Recovery Time?
How well you recover depends on how strictly you follow your doctor’s instructions. You will have to rest and elevate your leg, and using ice packs is also recommended (but not directly to the skin – use clean cloths). Bad post-op care, combined with poor nutrition, dehydration, and not getting enough sleep, can contribute to prolonged recovery. Additionally, smoking is known to make the recovery longer, too – it slows down wound healing. If you have some medical issues, they might interfere with your recovery as well.
When Can You Return to Normal Activities?
This depends on the extent of your surgery. If you didn’t need a cast for your recovery, you would likely be able to get back to your feet six to eight weeks later – but your doctor will have to check the healing progress and say it’s okay for you to start walking. If you had a cast put on, returning to normal activities will have to wait for at least three months. Keep in mind that once the cast is off, you will have to wear a special lace-up shoe for additional six weeks.
Consult Your Miami Doctor About Toe Lengthening Surgery Recovery Time
Before you decide whether this surgery is the right decision for you, be sure to discuss all the details about the recovery with your foot doctor. Our team at Luxe Foot Surgery is always ready to answer your questions – contact us to book your free first consultation as soon as possible!
How Long After Toe Surgery Can I Walk?
You will be able to walk about six to eight weeks after toe lengthening surgery. If the procedure was complex and you had a cast put on, you will be able to walk about three months post-op.
Can You Walk After Toe Shortening Surgery?
This depends on the type of procedure you had and which toe was operated on. In some cases, you will be able to walk the same day after surgery, and in others, it will take a while to heal.
Motomiya M, Takemoto R, Watanabe K, Uchio Y. Treatment of Hallux Varus and Brachymetatarsia With Toe Lengthening Using the Oblique Step-Cut Osteotomy. Foot Ankle Int. 2021. doi: 10.1177/10711007211042294 – URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/10711007211042294
Nishida A, Marumo K. Metatarsal Lengthening Using Callus Distraction in Short Toe Syndrome: A Case Report. Foot Ankle Int. 2011;32(12):S599-S603. doi: 10.3113/FAI.2011.1038 – URL: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3113/FAI.2011.1038