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What Should I Expect After Podiatric Surgery?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 17, 2024
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The expectations you should have following podiatric surgery depend on the exact foot or leg operation you’ll have done. Most podiatric surgeons give out pamphlets to patients outlining what they can expect after surgery. There are post podiatric surgery expectations commonly experienced by patients.

Post-surgery podiatric patients are usually taken to a recovery room until they recover from the anesthesia given during the surgery. Sometimes patients are given an injection of pain medication after recovery. They're typically sent home after being prescribed a narcotic such as Vicodin or Percocet. If your anesthesiologist gives you post-surgery pain medication, you may not need to start the prescribed painkillers until at least 12 hours after surgery.

A common prescribed dosage of Percocet or Vicodin after podiatric surgery is one or two tablets every four hours. A podiatric surgeon is likely to advise that post-surgery patients begin taking the medication as soon as the foot pain begins so that the drug has time to work. Otherwise, the painkilling effects may not be felt and the pain may feel like it's increasing; this may cause patients to want to take extra medication. If the pain becomes worse, it's important to call the physician rather than exceed the prescribed dosage. Drugs such as Vicodin and Percocet are extremely addictive; they should be taken only under a physician's exact instructions.

You should definitely expect to go home directly after podiatric surgery and stay off your feet for several days. Most podiatric surgeons advise patients to rest with their foot or feet above head level. This can be done by sitting in a low upholstered chair with a footstool. You can add several pillows to the footstool to keep the operated-on foot at a level that's above your head. Doing this helps prevent post-operative swelling in the legs and feet.

Most podiatric physicians instruct patients to cover the leg or foot with a plastic bag when showering. The dressing needs to remain clean and dry. If you do get your surgical dressing wet, and can't dry it sufficiently with a blow dryer, you should expect to have to go to your doctor's office to get new dressing applied. If your feet turn blue or feel cold in the days after podiatric surgery, you should contact the surgeon's office for help.

After podiatric surgery, you should expect the possibility of needing to use crutches or a walker for at least a few days. Most towns have rental crutches or walkers available from free community programs. You're most likely to need an appointment with your podiatric surgeon about two weeks after your foot or leg surgery. At this time, the doctor will likely remove stitches as well as order x-rays to make sure the problem has healed.

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