Click the questions to expand and see the answers.

  • How long will I be in hospital after hip replacement?
    • The length of time recovering in hospital can vary from person to person. On average after a hip replacement you should be ready to transfer to rehab or go home after 4 to 5 days. In hospital, the ward doctors, nurses and physiotherapists will take good care of you. They are briefed on the specific protocols to be followed for patients of Dr Hutchinson. The hospital nurses and administrative staff will help you make arrangements for your discharge. Hospital staff will also talk to you about your rehabilitation options after your surgery, once they have assessed your progress. Arrangements for rehabilitation are made by the nursing staff.
  • Can I sleep on my side after a hip replacement?
    • It is best to sleep on your back, or on the un-operated side with a pillow between your legs.
  • When can I drive?
    • In order to be safe driving a car after a hip replacement, you must be able to control the pedals properly and you must not be taking strong pain medications that could impair your judgement or reaction time. As you get to the two week mark, ask yourself if you would be able to stop quickly if a pedestrian ran in front of your vehicle. If you feel you could not react quickly enough, wait a little longer.
  • When can I swim or do hydrotherapy?
    • Patients can proceed with hydrotherapy 3 weeks after surgery if they meet the following criteria:
      – Wound is clean and dry with no scabs, drainage or blisters
      – Wound is reviewed by rehabilitation physician prior to doing hydrotherapy.
      Please contact the office if you are at all concerned about participating in hydrotherapy.
  • When can I remove my dressing?
    • Generally, a wound from hip replacement surgery requires very little care. All sutures are dissolvable and do not require removal. If the dressing is dry and remains sealed it does not need to be changed (the more we peel the dressing off and stick our fingers in the more likely we are to introduce a bug). It is important to keep the wound dry.  The dressing can be removed after 14 days from the day of surgery.
  • Do I have to wear TED compression stockings? How do you prevent blood clots (DVT)?
    • Dr Hutchinson is up-to-date with recent research and does not require routine wearing of compression stockings.  You will need to take blood thinning medications (aspirin) for a month after the surgery to reduce the risk of clots (DVT) – see the evidence for aspirin’s effectiveness here and here. Foot pumps are also utilised to prevent DVT
  • When can I resume my normal leisure activities?
    • During the first six weeks after your surgery, we recommend limiting your activities to walking with support and gentle swimming in the shallow end once you have been given permission to get the wound wet. We recommend you refrain from exercises such as pilates, golf and social tennis until three months after the date of your surgery. High impact activities such as running/jogging and activities which put your body into extreme poses, such as yoga, are not recommended at any time after hip replacement. If you are enthusiastic about a particular sport, please enquire with Dr Hutchinson.
  • How soon can I have sex after hip replacement surgery?
    • You can have intercourse whenever you feel ready, although you are advised to be the “passive” partner during the first six weeks.
    • There has been some interesting research which found an improvement in sexual function in women following hip replacement surgery:  Female patients under 55 years of age undergoing a hip replacement were studied. Patients were give pre- and post-operative questionnaires, which were completely confidential and anonymous. The questions asked related to frequency of sexual activity, importance of sex and reasons for being able or unable to have sex.

      Before surgery

      • Two thirds of patients said they found sex difficult because of, pain, stiffness, negative body image, immobility or deformity.
      • 87% said that hip arthritis had affected their ability to have sex and about a third of these patients said it had severely affected their ability to have sex.
      • Seventy percent of patients were concerned about how hip replacement surgery would affect sexual intercourse.
      • When asked the question “How important is returning to sexual activity as a reason for you to undergo hip replacement surgery?”  73% of patients said it was slightly, moderately or very important to them.

      After surgery

      • 80% reported resuming intercourse before the 8 week post-operative check up.
      • 74% said their sexual activity had “improved” or was “back to normal” or they were “back to their sexual prime” after hip replacement surgery.
      • Overall, hip replacement surgery has a positive impact on a woman’s ability to have sex.

      Now, you may ask, what about the men?

      Well, it is a documented phenomenon (in psychological studies) that men tend to overestimate their sexual prowess and frequency when asked about it, so the information gathered with the same questionnaire, is unlikely to be reliable.

  • How soon can I fly after hip replacement?
    • It is usually safe to take a short flight a week after surgery as long as you do not have blood clots in your legs. Long flights are best avoided during the first few months after surgery, as there is a risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs). If you must travel, we recommend you mobilise (walk) throughout the flight as much as possible, take an aspirin prior to flying and if possible keep your legs elevated when seated during the flight.
  • Will I set off alarms at the airport?
    • Yes, you may set off the alarms however you can alert the security staff that you have a metal implant, and let them know where it is in your body. You will likely be screened with a metal detecting wand, but security sees many patients with these types of implants, and you shouldn’t be delayed.
  • Should I tell my dentist that I’ve had hip replacement?
    • After a hip replacement, (even years after your surgery) pay particular attention to infections anywhere on the body, and deal with them immediately. Pay special attention to tooth decay and mouth infections, as these can be a cause of infection in a joint replacement.  If you need to visit your dentist, tell them you have had a joint replacement.
  • What are the Risks of Total Hip Replacement?
    • Hip replacement is commonly performed and generally safe. However, in order to make an informed decision and give your consent, you need to be aware of the possible side-effects and the risk of complications of this procedure.
      Specific complications of hip replacement are uncommon, but can include the following:
      – Infection – you will be given antibiotics during and after surgery to help prevent this.
      – Joint dislocation – this is most likely to happen immediately after your surgery and you may need another operation to treat this.
      – Difference in leg length – your leg may be slightly shorter or longer and you may need to wear a raised shoe on the shorter side to correct your balance.
      – Hip fracture – tiny cracks can occur in your bone while fitting the new joint. These usually heal, but sometimes the bone can fracture and require further surgery.
      – Unstable joint – the hip joint may become ‘loose’ and you may require further surgery to correct this.
      – Nerve damage – this can quite often result in numbness around your scar, but rarely the sciatic nerve may be stretched and this can leave weakness in the foot (usually temporary).
      The exact risks are specific to you and differ for every person, so we haven’t included statistics here. Please ask how these risks apply to you.
      Complications are when problems occur during or after the operation. Most people having hip surgery aren’t affected. The possible complications of any operation include an unexpected reaction to the anaesthetic, excessive bleeding or developing a blood clot, usually in a vein in the leg (DVT).