It was a good 3 months before I could get back into normal street shoes, and then, not all of them. I am also now up another shoe size, partly because of the surgery, partly because of just putting on weight and my feet widening up. In 6 months my foot was probably as good as it is going to get; it was still swelling daily up till about 5 months or so. It still gets tired and swollen if I am on it very long. In a normal workday it's fine, but on a day when I'm doing housework more than transcribing, or days like yesterday when I was running around from garage sale to garage sale, it gets pretty sore. I am not able to run for exercise. Maybe I could with the right shoes but I have not bothered to hunt down the perfect pair. Walking for exercise is okay as long as I wear good supportive shoes, and then get off my feet soon thereafter. When the weather is cold and I don't wear adequate footwear, I can feel something in that joint; I picture the screw that I have in there getting cold and making the joint feel cold, but that may just be my imagination. There is still a jagged scar across the top of the joint that is very noticeable to me, though probably nobody cares about how my feet look anywhere near as much as I think they do.
On the plus side, the stabbing, electric, keep-you-awake-at-night bunion pain is completely gone from that foot. I am still, over all, glad I did it. But I am determined now not to get the other side done if at all possible. I have given up on all my narrow-toe-box shoes (except one pair of boots that I just cannot bear to give up - also cannot bear to wear them so all I can do is take them out of their box every once in awhile and stroke and admire them, then put them away again), so I am not going to make my left foot worse or redo the damage to the right foot. I'm a little bit too tall, old and fat to be wearing 4-inch spike heels anyway. And I recently invested in a professional grade shoe stretcher with little buttons you can add to accommodate bunions or corns and am working on making extra space in all my left shoes so as not to pinch that bunion and make it worse (or more painful in the short term). It's working out quite well.
So: Short version. If you have a bunion and it hurts bad enough to wake you up in the night, or keeps you from exercising or enjoying time with your family and friends, have the surgery, but preventing the whole thing in the first place would be much preferable. Of course what sweet young thing is going to listen to my advice not to wear sexy high-heeled shoes? I didn't listen to MY mom, either.