All foot and ankle surgeries require some degree of recovery. While we do everything we can to make sure your surgery is safe and pleasant, recovery is the one area where you have almost complete control. And there’s a lot you can be doing now to help your recovery go as smoothly as possible. Our recovery timeline will help you prepare physically and emotionally for this important part of the surgery process.

Preparing For Foot and Ankle Surgery

1 – 7 Days before Surgery: Prepare for the Big Day, there is a lot you can do ahead of time to see that your initial recovery goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Prepare meals ahead of time, or arrange for someone to cook for you. Easy-to-eat foods like chicken noodle soup, oatmeal, or ice cream are good to have on hand. Plastic straws and a breakfast tray are a good idea too.
  • Stock up on couch-friendly activities. Books, movies, and crossword puzzles are good options. We provide you with 2 Free Redbox movie codes to enjoy during recovery.
  • Frontload the housework. You’ll be less stressed and have a nice, clean home to return to.
  • Arrange for someone to stay with you for a few days. You will need someone at home with you the first 24-48 hours after surgery while residual effects of anesthesia wear off.
  • Fill any prescriptions for post-op medications before surgery.
  • Consider purchasing a shower sleeve to keep your bandages dry since you won’t be able to get them wet during the first 1-2 weeks following surgery and you’ll want to shower eventually.
  • Call our office with any concerns. It’s perfectly normal to start getting nervous about surgery just about now, and your surgery team will be glad to answer any questions you may have, big or small.

Surgery Day

Your Surgery Day: Keep Calm and Rest Easy

  • You’ll need someone you know and trust to drive you home. You’ll be awake, but very groggy after surgery. It’s not safe for you to drive, and you’ll need help getting in and out of the car.
  • Start drinking water as soon as you can (use those straws you bought for easier sipping). Hydrating can ward off nausea and help flush out remaining anesthesia agents. Also, eat as you feel up to it.
  • Take your pain medication as prescribed for the first night after the numbing medication wears off. It is better to stay ahead of the pain until you know what it is like. Many patients dislike taking meds in general; that’s understandable. But don’t suffer unnecessarily. You’re not “weak,” you just had surgery!  The day after surgery after you have gotten used to the discomfort you can try to use over the counter pain medications rather than the prescribed pain pills.
  • DO NOT shower, bathe, or remove your bandaging. For many procedures, you’ll only have to wait until your first visit to see your results for the first time and may begin showering after that.

Recovering From Foot and Ankle Surgeries

1-2 Weeks after Surgery: Healing

  • Follow your treatment plan and do not put pressure on the foot or ankle
  • Discuss MLS Laser to speed up healing after surgery. Laser therapy has been shown to accelerate healing by drawing blood and oxygen to the area. This helps trigger the body into healing helping to speed up the process. 

2-4 Weeks after Surgery: Looking Good…

  • Your energy and comfort level will improve steadily as you heal. At this stage in the game you’ll be able to get around a little better and not have to have your foot always elevated.  Some procedures even allow some walking in the boot or shoe now.  You’ll be able to get it wet and start moving things around a little. However, the emotional aspects of recovery start coming into play right about now. Don’t be surprised if nitpicking and restlessness take center stage and remember healing takes time.  Even the simplest of procedures take 3 weeks to go through the normal healing phases and they are all still swollen.
  • Additionally, boredom may tempt you to jump back into your full routine too soon. But, don’t do it! It’s not worth setting back your recovery by weeks or even months to try to sneak back to your shoes or the gym before you’re ready. Even a few steps out of the boot or shoe can end in disaster and another surgery. We promise you won’t lose years of fitness in just a few weeks. Be patient, and stay positive. The best part of recovery is about to begin!

Follow your surgeon’s instructions. Pre- and post-op instructions are requirements, not suggestions. Follow them to the letter before and after your procedure. If you’re unsure whether an activity or food is okay, never hesitate to call your foot surgeons medical assistant and ask. 

Janet Simon
Experienced Albuquerque podiatrist specializing in preventing and treating foot and ankle pain.