FAQ: What to Expect After Hip Replacement Surgery

Dr. Magee uses advanced techniques for hip replacement surgery, resulting in improved surgical outcomes. Patients often have questions both before and after surgery, and Dr. Magee wants to provide as much information as possible to alleviate concerns.

These are some of the questions commonly asked by patients. These may serve as a helpful resource in answering your questions. If you have a specific concern or need more information, please contact Dr. Magee’s office at (801) 533-2002.

Post-Surgery Care

  1. How long will my hospital stay be after hip replacement?

    Length of hospital stay varies from patient to patient, but most will need to stay in the hospital for one to three days after surgery.

  2. How do I care for the incision area after my hip replacement?

    Proper wound care is important in reducing the risk of infection. Dissolvable sutures are placed under the skin to close the incision. It is important to keep the incision area clean and dry; avoid soaking the incision in water. Nurses will show you how to properly change your dressing before leaving the hospital.

  3. When do I start physical therapy after hip replacement surgery?

    Patients begin physical therapy during their hospital stay after surgery, often the day of surgery. Mobilizing the new hip as soon as possible ensures that you will be able to resume normal activities as soon as possible.

  4. What is involved in physical therapy for hip replacement surgery?

    Physical therapy begins with a graduated walking program, with the goal of helping you to resume daily activities. You may use a walker, cane, or crutches in the beginning to help you get around. You will also be given exercises designed to restore strength and range of motion in the hip. You may be able to do these exercises alone, or you may choose to continue working with a physical therapist for several weeks or months.

  5. Is swelling normal in the days after a hip replacement?

    Mild to moderate swelling is common within the first three to six months of hip replacement surgery. Elevating the leg and applying ice packs can help reduce swelling, as can compression stockings. However, if swelling is severe, new, or sudden, contact Dr. Magee immediately, as this may be a sign of complications.

  6. What are the potential complications of hip replacement surgery?

    Every surgery carries some risk of complication, even under the best conditions. Recognizing potential complications ensures that they can be addressed quickly if they do occur. Complications can include blood clots, infection, dislocation of the implant, unequal leg length, and implant loosening. However, the use of robotic technology and x-rays prior to closure decreases the risk of implant loosening, dislocation, and unequal leg length.

  7. What are the signs of infection after hip replacement surgery?

    Contact Dr. Magee immediately if you experience any of these symptoms after hip replacement surgery: persistent fever higher than 101°F; shaking chills; increased redness, tenderness, and/or swelling at the incision site; wound drainage; and increased pain both during activity and while at rest. These are all signs of a potential infection.

    You should also contact Dr. Magee if you experience leg pain unrelated to the incision, tenderness and/or redness above or below the knee, or increased swelling in the leg, ankle, or foot, as these symptoms can be a sign of a blood clot.

Returning to Activities

  1. How soon after hip replacement surgery am I allowed to drive again?

    Every patient’s recovery process is different. Dr. Magee will generally clear patients to drive after hip replacement surgery when reflexes and strength have returned to normal, and no longer take narcotic pain medications.

  2. When am I allowed to return to daily activities after hip replacement?

    Exact recovery time can vary, but most patients are able to return to everyday activities within three to six weeks of surgery.

  3. How long will it take to fully recover from hip replacement surgery?

    On average, patients fully recover from hip replacement surgery within two to three months. However, this varies from patient to patient.

  4. Am I allowed to run after a hip replacement?

    High-impact activities like running and jogging can put additional stress on the hip. This can increase wear on the implant. Low-impact activities like walking, swimming, and cycling are preferred because they are easier on the joint.

  5. Can I participate in sports after a hip replacement?

    Most patients are able to participate in sports, like skiing and cycling, after recovery, although low-impact activities are generally preferred over high-impact activities to decrease wear on the implant. It is also important to avoid doing too much too soon.

  6. Are there any long-term restrictions after having a hip replacement?

    Most patients are able to resume normal activities after recovering from hip replacement surgery. However, you should take precautions to avoid falls after surgery, as they could lead to complications. You may also want to avoid high-impact exercise to increase the life of your hip implant.

Long-Term Outcomes

  1. Will there be scarring on my hip at the incision site?

    Scarring at the incision site is possible, but the appearance generally improves over time, particularly with proper wound care.

  2. Is it normal for one leg to be longer than the other after a hip replacement?

    Dr. Magee makes every effort possible to ensure that leg lengths remain even after hip replacement surgery. However, some patients feel that there is a difference in leg length after a hip replacement. Sometimes, these patients are more comfortable using a shoe lift to help even out leg length.

  3. What if my pain continues after recovery?

    Most patients experience pain reduction after hip replacement surgery. However, a hip replacement will not allow you to do more than you could before surgery. You may need to modify your activities, especially if you participated in high-impact activities like running or jogging before surgery. High-impact activities can increase wear on the implant and cause it to loosen, which can be painful.

  4. What do I do if my hip implant is dislocated?

    Dislocation is uncommon with hip implants. However, if your hip implant does dislocate, seek medical attention immediately. It may put back into place with a closed reduction, rather than another surgical procedure. If the implant dislocates multiple times, further surgical procedures may be needed.

  5. Will I regain full range of motion in my hip?

    There may initially be some stiffness in the hip after hip replacement surgery, but this often subsides over time. Most patients find that their range of motion is greatly improved compared to hip function before surgery. Physical therapy exercises are also designed to help you regain motion in the hip, so it is important to stick with the physical therapy program.

  6. How long will my hip replacement implant last?

    On average, a hip replacement implant can last for 15-20 years. This depends on a number of factors, but if you take care to avoid high-impact activities and protect your hip, you can expect the implant to last for many years.