‍Hammertoes and claw toes are two common foot deformities that affect many people. Hammertoe surgery and or claw toe surgery can help to significantly improve foot complaints caused by Hammertoes or claw toes. However, it is normal for the foot to swell after surgery.

In this article we will look at how long a foot can be swollen after, for example, hammertoe surgery, because I am often asked this question. In this context, I will also explain why the foot swells after claw toe or hammer toe surgery, how to reduce the swelling and when to see a doctor.

Why does the foot swell after an operation for hammer toes or claw toes?

When a foot is operated on, a defence and "repair reaction" occurs in the operated area immediately as a result of the operation. This defence and "repair" reaction is perfectly normal and is accompanied by swelling. It is primarily due to changes in tissue and blood flow caused by the surgical procedure. 

Even with the subsequent scarring, the lymphatic drainage does not yet function to the normal extent: a lymphatic congestion can occur - this is also a common process that returns to normal over time. But how long does this take?

How long is the foot swollen after hammer toe surgery or claw toe surgery?

As a rule, the foot swells a few days after the operation and then it can take up to two weeks for the swelling to subside. The immediate tissue reaction has already reached its maximum within the first 72 hours. Then it decreases. Further swelling in the course of healing can sometimes take months. It depends on these factors:

  • the age of the patient
  • The extent of the intervention and the surgical procedure 
  • From the anatomical site of the intervention
  • from the movement of the patient after the operation or postoperative follow-up care

Tonio Gottlieb, MD, advises:

“Discuss all questions with your treating foot surgeon before your procedure. If you are well educated and informed beforehand, you will know exactly what you are getting into. Clarity is also important for a minor surgical procedure so that expectations are realistic. Please follow the instructions for aftercare given to you by your treating doctor."

How can you reduce the swelling?

To reduce swelling after hammertoe and claw toe surgery, sufferers can use various methods:

  • Above all, elevating the affected leg and resting it are important for healing and swelling to subside.
  • Pain relief and anti-inflammation are provided by applications with cooling compresses and ice packs. 

After wound healing is complete, regular movement exercises and targeted foot gymnastics are helpful to reduce swelling.

Your foot surgeon will usually prescribe painkillers and an anti-inflammatory ointment if necessary.

When should you see a doctor for a swollen foot?

In case of excessive swelling of the toes and foot or severe pain, you should consult your foot surgeon to clarify and avoid possible complications.

Even if the swelling goes down regularly within a few weeks, it is important to have regular check-ups to make sure that the healing process is on track.

The private foot surgery practice of Dr Tonio Gottlieb, MD in Berlin-Zehlendorf is available for a second opinion when it comes to hammer toe surgery or claw toe surgery or other foot or toe deformities.

Contact the practice of Tonio Gottlieb, MD now