Bunions typically develop slowly over the course of months and years, so it should come as no surprise that it’s a condition that oftentimes affects older individuals. If the problem becomes too severe, surgery is typically the only effective option, but can surgery be pursued if the patient is advanced in age? How old is too old for bunion surgery, and what happens if a bunion operation is too risky? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.
Too Old For Bunion Surgery
As you might imagine, there is no age at which it’s always safe or always unsafe to perform a bunion operation. A person’s age is not what determines whether or not an operation will be considered, it’s their overall health. We’ve seen 80-year-olds who move better than some 40-year-olds, so your age won’t automatically qualify or disqualify you from surgery.
Instead, we’ll look at your overall health and assess your risk of coming out of surgery as planned. Statistics show that older individuals tend to be at a higher risk for a number of complications during and after surgical procedures, including:
- Reactions to anesthesia
- Delayed wound healing
- Blot clots
- Medication-related complications
Again, age alone will not prevent you from being able to undergo bunion correction surgery, but your doctor will want to create a risk assessment and explain your options before recommending a surgical procedure.
If surgery is recommended, we’ll do everything in our power to make sure that it goes as planned. We’ll also be by your side throughout your rehab and recovery to answer any questions you may have and to ensure you’re progressing as expected. If surgery isn’t recommended because of the possible risks or for another reason, we’ll be more than happy to set up an individualized nonoperative treatment plan. While this won’t reverse the joint dysfunction, nonoperative methods have two main goals – symptom alleviation and slowing or stopping further joint degeneration.
In patients that may not be eligible for surgery, nonoperative treatment typically involves a combination of rest, physical therapy, footwear modifications, orthotic inserts, anti-inflammatory medications and bunion pads. When used in combination with one another, these methods tend to greatly improve symptoms and increase a patient’s quality of life.
So know that age is not the most important factor when it comes to determining whether or not you’re eligible for bunion surgery. Instead, your overall health and any comorbidities will be analyzed to determine if the benefits are worth the risk. Considering bunion surgery is a very low risk procedure, oftentimes most patients qualify.
For more information, or to talk to a foot specialist about a foot or ankle issue, reach out to Dr. McDonald and his team today at (860) 244-8889.