What to expect after surgery

Hip replacement surgery can dramatically improve or even completely remove arthritic hip joint pain in the long term. There is however a recovery period and the following information is provided to help this period pass as smoothly as possible.

After surgery

Owing to the use of spinal anaesthesia you should be alert in the recovery room following your surgery. Nursing staff will keep regular checks on your pulse, blood pressure, temperature and blood oxygen levels and pain control. You will soon be transferred back to the ward.
The feeling and movement return to your legs within a few hours. There will be a soft wedge between your legs to prevent them from crossing. The nurses ensure you have good pain relief and you are allowed to eat and drink.

Depending on the time of day your operation takes place, you may get up the same day or early the next under the guidance of the physiotherapists. They will then guide you over the next few days through the important goals of getting in and out of bed; rising from sitting to standing; getting on and off the toilet; walking with a frame and then progressing to sticks or crutches and climbing up and down stairs.

The physiotherapist and nurses will give plenty of reminders regarding the necessary precautions to prevent dislocation of the hip replacement. You will have blood tests and X-rays on the first day following surgery and these will be checked by Mr Webb.

You will be discharged from hospital once you have passed all the physiotherapy requirements safely and are medically fit. This usually takes place 2 to 3 days after surgery.

Continued Recovery

The long term success of the hip replacement will be helped by your taking care with your recovery in the first few months and in particular the period immediately following surgery.

  • Your wound will be covered by a dressing and you will be given instructions regarding its care by the ward staff before discharge. As a rule, you should not need to change your dressing until you are reviewed by the expert clinic nurses approximately 2 weeks after surgery. This appointment will be made for you before you are discharged.
  • The skin wound should be mostly healed by this two-week stage but a further dressing for protection will be used. Mr Webb uses a combination of wound closure techniques to minimize the risk of infection. This entails the final skin closure with an absorbable suture (under the skin), glue and paper sutures. Another bonus of this method of skin closure is that it avoids the need for painful suture removal.


Your physiotherapists will prescribe a series of exercises that you should perform on a regular basis after returning home. The key to success is frequent gentle exercise and activity. Don't try to overdo the amount of activity you perform in the early stages otherwise you might get increased muscle pain. If this happens, ease back and take painkillers but do not stop activity altogether, otherwise you will become stiff. Plan regular short walks and mild activities. Continued mobility is vital to a full recovery.

Follow-up appointments:

A follow-up appointment to see Mr Webb will be made for approximately six weeks after surgery. By this stage you should be seeing some good progress in your recovery. Your wound will be healed although still a bit uncomfortable as the sutures under the skin start to be absorbed by your body. You will be given further advice about your rehabilitation.

Insured and self-pay patients will also have regular out-patient physiotherapy sessions during the recovery period.

Mr Webb will also review you one year following surgery and at intervals in the longer term as per the British Hip Society guidelines.

Advice during rehabilitation:

Mr Webb is available for advice (contact via secretary) during the recovery period and beyond. If the questions pertain to the exercises and mobility then the physiotherapists are also available for advice.

Life with a hip replacement:

Once you have recovered and rehabilitated from your surgery you will be able to fully enjoy your hip replacement. You should remain active and vigilant to protect the hip replacement and your general health in the long-term.

At any point following your surgery Mr Webb (via his secretary) is available to answer any questions or worries that may arise. His priority is your wellbeing and your peace of mind.