Tearing your Achilles tendon can be quite painful and traumatic. Anything more than a really minor tear typically requires surgical repair, and that process can be a little challenging to get through, too. However, it will be less challenging if you know what to expect. Here's a look.
Your surgeon will perform the procedure arthroscopically, if possible.
Arthroscopic surgery is a surgery performed through small incisions, using a camera and smaller surgical tools. If it is possible to repair your tendon this way, that's the approach your surgeon will likely take. Arthroscopic surgery has a shorter healing time and will leave smaller scars. More severe tears or those located on the back side of the tendon, however, may need to be repaired via open surgery. With open surgery, a large incision is made along the back of your calf down to your heal, and the tendon is repaired directly.
The procedure is fairly low-risk.
All surgery comes with some risk of side effects. You could have a negative reaction to the anesthesia, and there is some risk of infection. However, Achilles tendon surgery is a lot less invasive than more major orthopedic procedures, such as knee replacements and rotator cuff surgeries, and most patients respond well with no major problems.
You'll typically go home the same day.
Achilles tendon repair surgery is often performed under a regional anesthetic. This means that you'll be awake during the procedure, but you'll be numb from the waist down. You'll likely be given a sedative to keep you calm, but you won't be put completely under. This speeds up the recovery process; you can generally return home after just a few hours of observation. You will need a friend or family member to drive you home and stay with you for at least a few days.
Recovery takes a few months.
You'll have to walk on crutches for at least a couple of weeks after your procedure. Then, you'll start physical therapy to help regain flexibility and strength in the tendon and the muscles that attach to it. If you are an athlete, plan on returning to training about three months after Achilles tendon repair, although it may be six months before you feel 100% again.
Hopefully you now have a better idea of what to expect with Achilles tendon surgery. If you have any remaining questions, ask an orthopedic surgeon or their assistant.