What to Expect After Hip Surgery: Notes on Recovery and Risks

Sep 30, 2020 | Articles

The idea of hip surgery can be daunting, as it has a significant impact on one’s mobility. However, modern techniques have made these types of procedures much less taxing on the body.

Tips for the period following hip surgery

The following are general tips and advice relevant to patients after they have received hip surgery. It is important to note that every patient is different and may respond differently during the healing process. Always follow the instructions provided by your surgeon closely for optimal recovery and contact your surgeon or healthcare provider if you are uncertain about anything.

  • The use of crutches: The use of crutches is strongly recommended with the aim of returning to full activity as soon as possible. The prescribed length of time a patient can initially spend putting weight on the feet depends on the exact procedure that was performed.


  • Caring for the incision: Keep your wounds closed for two to three weeks, when the time comes for the sutures to be removed. Change the waterproof dressing if the wound cover gets dirty or wet.


  • Showering: You can resume normal showers as long as there is not any drainage from the incision sites. Avoid getting the wound dressing wet by not letting any water run over the covered incision. This is only until the sutures are removed – water can then run over the incision site.


  • Returning to work (or school): You may return to work after two to four weeks, depending on the level of pain you experience. However, this is dependent on you making time for your required physical therapy and exercise. If you perform heavy duty work, your return will be determined by the condition of your hip and your progression in physical therapy.


  • Follow-up appointment: Typically, the wound will need to be checked by your surgeon or a general practitioner two weeks after surgery, unless, of course, there are any complications in the meantime. There is usually also a follow-up appointment with the surgeon about six weeks after the surgery to check the progress.


  • Medication: You will most likely be prescribed a range of painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication. Take these exactly as instructed by the healthcare practitioner and contact your doctor if you experience any side-effects.


  • Postoperative constipation: Constipation is a common experience after surgery due to the use of certain medications. If you experience constipation, drink plenty of water and make sure you add fibre-full foods to your diet, such as prunes, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains. You can also purchase a stool softener at any pharmacy if needed.


Risks and Complications Associated with Hip Surgery

The following risks are related to almost any type of surgery. It’s neither a comprehensive list, nor is it a list of conditions or consequences that are bound to occur:


  • Infection: A sterile operating environment, antibiotics, and the careful handling of incision sites following hip surgery reduce the risk of infection. If you notice abnormal swelling or redness around the incision, an increase of pain, or have a fever, contact your doctor immediately.


  • Blood clots: Early motion, and medication for high-risk patients, reduce this risk. Look out for abnormal swelling or acute pain in the calf or the thigh after a hip surgery.


  • Pain: Medication, ice, rest, compression, elevation, and physiotherapy can help to reduce the pain.


  • Bruising and/or bleeding: This is usually not dangerous, but contact your doctor if you are concerned.


  • Numbness: This should resolve over time.


When it comes to hip surgery, Dr Jan de Vos, the Pretoria Hip, Knee and Shoulder Surgeon is the leading choice. Elected as the President of the South African Orthopaedic Association (SAOA) in 2014, and the President of the South African Arthroplasty Society in 2017, he is the leading authority on this subject matter. For more information, get in touch with his office today.