What is hip replacement surgery?

Hip Replacement Surgery
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Hip Replacement: Before Your Surgery

How can you care for yourself after hip replacement surgery?

Your physical therapist will teach you how to get around with a walker, crutches, or cane. Take all medicines, including pain medicines and blood thinners, exactly as your doctor prescribed. Follow instructions for incision care. Follow your doctor's instructions about ways to avoid dislocating your hip.

How can you talk to your doctor about sex after hip replacement surgery?

Your doctor will help you know when it's okay for you to have sex. For most people, having sex is safe 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Sometimes doctors are so focused on your recovery that they may not ask about other important parts of your life, like sex. It may be up to you to bring up the subject.

To help get the conversation going, try these tips:

  • If you think you will have trouble bringing up sex, practice how you will introduce the subject. You might say something like, "I have some concerns about having sex without hurting my new hip. I'd like to talk about that today."
  • Before your appointment, make a list of questions to ask your doctor. Be as specific as you can.
  • If you have trouble asking the questions directly or you feel rushed, give your list of questions to your doctor. Then ask for another appointment to discuss them.

Hip replacement surgery: What happens when you come out of surgery?

Your pain will be controlled with intravenous (I.V.) medicine. You will probably also have medicines to prevent infection, blood clots, and nausea. If you had regional anesthesia, you may have little or no feeling below your waist for a while.

You may have a cushion between your legs. It helps keep your new hip in the correct position. To help prevent blood clots, you may be wearing compression stockings. And you may have compression sleeves on your legs. These squeeze and release your lower legs to help keep the blood moving.

Hip Replacement: When Can You Be Active Again?

After hip replacement surgery (posterior): Overview

Hip replacement surgery replaces the worn parts of your hip joint. When you leave the hospital, you will probably be walking with crutches or a walker. You may be able to climb a few stairs and get in and out of bed and chairs. But you will need someone to help you at home until you have more energy and can move around better.

You will go home with a bandage and stitches, staples, skin glue, or tape strips. You can remove the bandage when your doctor tells you to. If you have stitches or staples, your doctor will remove them about 2 weeks after your surgery. Glue or tape strips will fall off on their own over time. You may still have some mild pain, and the area may be swollen for 3 to 4 months after surgery. Your doctor may give you medicine for the pain.

You will continue the rehabilitation program (rehab) you started in the hospital. The better you do with your rehab exercises, the sooner you will get your strength and movement back. Most people are able to return to work 4 weeks to 4 months after surgery.

What happens on the day of your hip replacement surgery?

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • Take a bath or shower before you come in for your surgery. Do not apply lotions, perfumes, deodorants, or nail polish.
  • Do not shave the surgical site yourself.
  • Take off all jewelry and piercings. And take out contact lenses, if you wear them.

At the hospital or surgery center

  • Bring a picture ID.
  • The area for surgery is often marked to make sure there are no errors.
  • You will get antibiotics through the I.V. tube before surgery. This lowers the risk of an infection.
  • You will be kept comfortable and safe by your anesthesia provider. The anesthesia may make you sleep. Or it may just numb the area being worked on.
  • The surgery usually takes 1 to 3 hours.

Hip Replacement Surgery: Final

Completed hip replacement

Completed hip replacement

In hip replacement surgery, the hip socket and the top of the thigh bone are replaced. This picture shows a completed hip replacement.

Deciding About: Hip Replacement Surgery

How do you prepare for hip replacement surgery?

Surgery can be stressful. This information will help you safely prepare and know what to expect.

  • Follow the instructions exactly about when to stop eating and drinking. If you don't, your surgery may be canceled. If your doctor told you to take your medicines on the day of surgery, take them with only a sip of water.
  • When you go home, you'll need someone to help you until you have more energy and can move around better.
  • Be sure you have someone to take you home. Anesthesia and pain medicine will make it unsafe for you to drive or get home on your own.
  • Tell your doctor ALL the medicines, vitamins, supplements, and herbal remedies you take. Some may increase the risk of problems during your surgery. Your doctor will tell you if you should stop taking any of them before the surgery and how soon to do it.
  • You may need to shower or bathe with a special soap the night before and the morning of your surgery. This may help prevent an infection.

Safe positions for sex after hip replacement surgery

The following positions may help you feel more comfortable and keep you safer. Your doctor or physical therapist may tell you about other positions that will be safe for you.

Physical therapy can help you heal and avoid injury so that sex can be enjoyable and comfortable again.


Couple standing, both facing forward, with person behind their partner.

Standing can help you keep from putting too much weight on your hips.

Sitting in a chair

Couple sitting in one chair, both facing forward, with partner on person's lap.

Using a chair can help keep your hips comfortable.

Edge of the bed

Partner lying on bed, feet on the floor, with person kneeling between their legs.

Using the edge of the bed can help you keep your knees apart.

Missionary position

Partner lying on back, knees bent, with person lying facedown on top.

Keeping your legs down and low can help protect your hips.

Hip replacement precautions: Tips

  • Go slowly when you climb stairs. Make sure the lights are on. Have someone watch you, if possible. When you climb stairs:
    • Step up first with your unaffected leg. Then bring the affected leg up to the same step. Bring your crutches or cane up.
    • To go down stairs, reverse the order. First, put your crutches or cane on the lower step. Then bring the affected leg down to that step. Finally, step down with the unaffected leg.
  • You can ride in a car, but stop at least once every hour to get out and walk around.
  • If your doctor recommends exercises, do them as directed. You can cut back on your exercises if your muscles start to ache, but don’t stop doing them.

After hip replacement surgery (anterior): When to call

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of a blood clot in your leg (called a deep vein thrombosis), such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have signs of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the incision.
    • Pus draining from the incision.
    • A fever.
  • Your leg or foot turns cold or changes color.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your leg or foot.
  • You have signs that your hip may be dislocated, including:
    • Severe pain and not being able to stand.
    • A crooked leg that looks like your hip is out of position.
    • Not being able to bend or straighten your leg.
  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have loose stitches, or your incision comes open.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not have a bowel movement after taking a laxative.
  • You do not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.