About Your Hip Replacement Surgery

This guide will help you get ready for your hip replacement surgery at Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK). It will also help you understand what to expect during your recovery.

Use this guide as a reference in the days leading up to your surgery. Bring it with you every time you come to MSK, including the day of your surgery. You and your healthcare team will refer to it throughout your care.

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About Your Surgery

Your hip anatomy

Your hip is a ball and socket joint. This means that it’s made up of 2 parts that allow for movement and rotation. Your hip is made up of the femoral head, which is the top end of your femur (thigh bone), and a socket in your pelvis called the acetabulum (see Figure 1). The femoral head is a round surface that looks like a ball. It fits into the acetabulum and allows smooth motion of the hip.

Figure 1. Your hip anatomy

Figure 1. Your hip anatomy

If you need a hip replacement, the parts of your hip joint that are damaged will be replaced with artificial parts, called prostheses. These are usually made of metal or plastic. The new joint will help reduce pain and increase your ability to move around.

Types of hip replacements

There are 2 types of hip replacements, a partial hip replacement and a total hip replacement.

In a partial hip replacement, the femoral head is removed and replaced with a metal stem that is inserted into your femur. A ball is placed on the top part of the stem. A device called a “bipolar cup” snaps on the ball of your new hip and rotates in your own hip socket.

In a total hip replacement, in addition to your femoral head, your acetabulum is also replaced with a metal socket. The metal socket is attached to your bone by cement, screws, or your bone itself.

Your hip replacement surgery

Your surgeon will make an incision (surgical cut) that will run about 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) above your hip to about 6 inches (15.24 centimeters) below your hip. They’ll remove the diseased portion of your bone and replace it with your prosthesis. It will be fitted and fixed in place.

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Before Your Surgery

The information in this section will help you get ready for your surgery. Read this section when your surgery is scheduled and refer to it as your surgery date gets closer. It has important information about what you need to do before your surgery.

As you read through this section, write down any questions you want to ask your healthcare provider.

Getting ready for your surgery

You and your care team will work together to get ready for your surgery.

Help us keep you safe during your surgery by telling us if any of the following statements apply to you, even if you aren’t sure.

  • I take a blood thinner, such as:
    • Aspirin
    • Heparin
    • Warfarin (Jantoven® or Coumadin®)
    • Clopidogrel (Plavix®)
    • Enoxaparin (Lovenox®)
    • Dabigatran (Pradaxa®)
    • Apixaban (Eliquis®)
    • Rivaroxaban (Xarelto®)
    There are others, so be sure your healthcare provider knows all the medications you’re taking.
  • I take prescription medications (medications my healthcare provider prescribes), including patches and creams.
  • I take over-the-counter medications (medications I buy without a prescription), including patches and creams.
  • I take dietary supplements, such as herbs, vitamins, minerals, or natural or home remedies.
  • I have a pacemaker, automatic implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (AICD), or other heart device.
  • I have sleep apnea.
  • I’ve had a problem with anesthesia (medication to make me sleep during surgery) in the past.
  • I’m allergic to certain medication(s) or materials, including latex.
  • I’m not willing to receive a blood transfusion.
  • I drink alcohol.
  • I smoke or use an electronic smoking device (such as a vape pen, e-cigarette, or Juul®).
  • I use recreational drugs.

About drinking alcohol

The amount of alcohol you drink can affect you during and after your surgery. It’s important to talk with your healthcare providers about how much alcohol you drink. This will help us plan your care.

  • If you stop drinking alcohol suddenly, it can cause seizures, delirium, and death. If we know you’re at risk for these complications, we can prescribe medications to help keep them from happening.
  • If you drink alcohol regularly, you may be at risk for other complications during and after your surgery. These include bleeding, infections, heart problems, and a longer hospital stay.

Here are things you can do before your surgery to keep from having problems:

  • Be honest with your healthcare providers about how much alcohol you drink.
  • Try to stop drinking alcohol once your surgery is planned. If you develop a headache, nausea (feeling like you’re going to throw up), increased anxiety, or can’t sleep after you stop drinking, tell your healthcare provider right away. These are early signs of alcohol withdrawal and can be treated.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you can’t stop drinking.
  • Ask your healthcare provider questions about drinking and surgery. As always, all of your medical information will be kept confidential.

About smoking

If you smoke, you can have breathing problems when you have surgery. Stopping even for a few days before surgery can help. Your healthcare provider will refer you to our Tobacco Treatment Program if you smoke. You can also reach the program by calling 212-610-0507.

About sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a common breathing disorder that causes you to stop breathing for short periods of time while sleeping. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). With OSA, your airway becomes completely blocked during sleep. OSA can cause serious problems during and after surgery.

Please tell us if you have sleep apnea or if you think you might have it. If you use a breathing device (such as a CPAP device) for sleep apnea, bring it with you the day of your surgery.

Within 30 days of your surgery

Presurgical Testing (PST)

Before your surgery, you’ll have an appointment for presurgical testing (PST). The date, time, and location will be printed on the appointment reminder from your surgeon’s office. It’s helpful to bring the following things to your PST appointment:

  • A list of all the medications you’re taking, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, patches, and creams.
  • Results of any tests done outside of MSK, such as a cardiac stress test, echocardiogram, or carotid doppler study.
  • The name(s) and telephone number(s) of your healthcare provider(s).

You can eat and take your usual medications the day of your appointment.

During your PST appointment, you’ll meet with a nurse practitioner (NP). They work closely with anesthesiology staff (specialized healthcare providers who will give you anesthesia during your surgery). Your NP will review your medical and surgical history with you. You may have tests, such as an electrocardiogram (EKG) to check your heart rhythm, a chest x-ray, blood tests, and any other tests needed to plan your care. Your NP may also recommend that you see other healthcare providers.

Your NP will talk with you about which medications you should take the morning of your surgery.

Identify your caregiver

Your caregiver plays an important role in your care. Before your surgery, you and your caregiver will learn about your surgery from your healthcare providers. After your surgery, your caregiver will take you home when you’re discharged from the hospital. They’ll also help you care for yourself at home.

For caregivers

‌  Resources and support are available to help manage the responsibilities that come with caring for a person going through cancer treatment. For support resources and information, visit www.mskcc.org/caregivers or read A Guide for Caregivers.

Complete a Health Care Proxy form

If you haven’t already completed a Health Care Proxy form, we recommend you complete one now. If you’ve already completed one or have any other advance directives, bring them to your next appointment.

A health care proxy is a legal document that identifies the person who will speak for you if you can’t communicate for yourself. The person you identify is called your health care agent.

Talk with your healthcare provider if you’re interested in completing a health care proxy. You can also read the resources Advance Care Planning and How to Be a Health Care Agent for information about health care proxies, other advance directives, and being a health care agent.

Do breathing and coughing exercises

Practice taking deep breaths and coughing before your surgery. Your healthcare provider will give you an incentive spirometer to help expand your lungs. For more information, read the resource How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer.

Exercise

Try to do aerobic exercise every day. Aerobic exercise is any exercise that makes your heart beat faster, such as walking, swimming, or biking. If it’s cold outside, use stairs in your home or go to a mall or shopping center. Exercising will help your body get into its best condition for your surgery and make your recovery faster and easier.

Follow a healthy diet

Follow a well-balanced, healthy diet before your surgery. If you need help with your diet, talk with your healthcare provider about meeting with a clinical dietitian nutritionist.

Buy a 4% chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) solution antiseptic skin cleanser (such as Hibiclens®)

4% CHG solution is a skin cleanser that kills germs for 24 hours after you use it. Showering with it before your surgery will help lower your risk of infection after surgery. You can buy a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser at your local pharmacy without a prescription.

7 days before your surgery

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for taking aspirin

If you take aspirin or a medication that contains aspirin, you may need to change your dose or stop taking it 7 days before your surgery. Aspirin can cause bleeding.

Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Don’t stop taking aspirin unless they tell you to. For more information, read the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), or Vitamin E.

Stop taking vitamin E, multivitamins, herbal remedies, and other dietary supplements

Stop taking vitamin E, multivitamins, herbal remedies, and other dietary supplements 7 days before your surgery. These things can cause bleeding. For more information, read the resource Herbal Remedies and Cancer Treatment.

2 days before your surgery

Stop taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

Stop taking NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen (Advil® and Motrin®) and naproxen (Aleve®), 2 days before your surgery. These medications can cause bleeding. For more information, read the resource Common Medications Containing Aspirin, Other Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), or Vitamin E.

1 day before your surgery

Note the time of your surgery

A staff member from the Admitting Office will call you after 2:00 pm the day before your surgery. If your surgery is scheduled for a Monday, they’ll call you on the Friday before. If you don’t get a call by 7:00 pm, call 212-639-5014.

The staff member will tell you what time to arrive at the hospital for your surgery. They’ll also remind you where to go.

This will be one of the following locations:

  • Presurgical Center (PSC) on the 2nd floor
    1275 York Avenue
    (between East 67th and East 68th Streets)
    New York, NY 10065
    M Elevator to 2nd floor
  • Presurgical Center (PSC) on the 6th floor
    1275 York Avenue
    (between East 67th and East 68th Streets)
    New York, NY 10065
    B elevator to 6th floor

Shower with a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser (such as Hibiclens)

The night before your surgery, shower using a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser.

  1. Use your normal shampoo to wash your hair. Rinse your head well.
  2. Use your normal soap to wash your face and genital area. Rinse your body well with warm water.
  3. Open the 4% CHG solution bottle. Pour some into your hand or a clean washcloth.
  4. Move away from the shower stream. Rub the 4% CHG solution gently over your body from your neck to your feet. Don’t put it on your face or genital area.
  5. Move back into the shower stream to rinse off the 4% CHG solution. Use warm water.
  6. Dry yourself off with a clean towel after your shower.
  7. Don’t put on any lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, perfume, or cologne after your shower.

Sleep

Go to bed early and get a full night’s sleep.

Instructions for eating before your surgery

‌  
Do not eat anything after midnight the night before your surgery. This includes hard candy and gum.
 

The morning of your surgery

Instructions for drinking before your surgery

‌  You can drink a total of 12 ounces of water between midnight and 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. Do not drink anything else.

Do not drink anything starting 2 hours before your scheduled arrival time. This includes water.

Take your medications as instructed

If your healthcare provider told you to take certain medications the morning of your surgery, take only those medications with a sip of water. Depending on what medications you take, this may be all, some, or none of your usual morning medications.

Shower with a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser (such as Hibiclens)

Shower with a 4% CHG solution antiseptic skin cleanser before you leave for the hospital. Use it the same way you did the night before.

Don’t put on any lotion, cream, deodorant, makeup, powder, perfume, or cologne after your shower.

Things to remember

  • Remove nail polish and nail wraps.
  • Don’t wear any metal objects. Remove all jewelry, including body piercings. The equipment used during your surgery can cause burns if it touches metal.
  • Leave valuable items, such as credit cards, jewelry, or your checkbook, at home.
  • Before you’re taken into the operating room, you’ll need to remove your hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles.
  • Wear something comfortable and loose-fitting.
  • If you’re menstruating (have your monthly period), use a sanitary pad, not a tampon. You’ll get disposable underwear, as well as a pad if needed.

What to bring

  • Sneakers that lace up or slip-on shoes with a sole. You may have some swelling in your feet. Lace-up sneakers or sturdy slip-on shoes will be easier to put on after surgery. Avoid open back shoes, such as flip flops or mules.
  • Your breathing device for sleep apnea (such as your CPAP device), if you have one.
  • Your incentive spirometer.
  • Your Health Care Proxy Form, if you have completed one.
  • Your cell phone and charger.
  • A case for your personal items, such as eyeglasses, hearing aid(s), dentures, prosthetic device(s), wig, and religious articles, if you have one.
  • This guide. Your healthcare team will use it to teach you how to care for yourself after surgery.

Where to park

MSK’s parking garage is located on East 66th Street between York and First Avenues. If you have questions about prices, call 212-639-2338.

To reach the garage, turn onto East 66th Street from York Avenue. The garage is located about a quarter of a block in from York Avenue, on the right-hand (north) side of the street. There’s a tunnel that you can walk through that connects the garage to the hospital.

There are also other garages located on East 69th Street between First and Second Avenues, East 67th Street between York and First Avenues, and East 65th Street between First and Second Avenues.

Once you’re in the hospital

You’ll be asked to say and spell your name and birth date many times. This is for your safety. People with the same or a similar name may be having surgery on the same day.

Get dressed for surgery

When it’s time to change for surgery, you’ll get a hospital gown, robe, and nonskid socks to wear.

Meet with a nurse

You’ll meet with a nurse before surgery. Tell them the dose of any medications you took after midnight (including prescription and over-the-counter medications, patches, and creams) and the time you took them.

Your nurse may place an intravenous (IV) line in one of your veins, usually in your arm or hand. If your nurse doesn’t place the IV, your anesthesiologist will do it in the operating room.

Meet with an anesthesiologist

You’ll also meet with an anesthesiologist before surgery. They will:

  • Review your medical history with you.
  • Ask you if you’ve had any problems with anesthesia in the past, including nausea or pain.
  • Talk with you about your comfort and safety during your surgery.
  • Talk with you about the kind of anesthesia you’ll get.
  • Answer your questions about your anesthesia.

Your doctor or anesthesiologist may also talk with you about how you’ll get your pain medication. You may receive your pain medication through:

  • An epidural catheter (thin, flexible tube) in your spine (back)
  • A nerve catheter placed near the nerves that cause pain from your incision
  • Your IV

Get ready for your surgery

When it’s time for your surgery, you’ll need to remove your hearing aids, dentures, prosthetic devices, wig, and religious articles, if you have them.

You’ll either walk into the operating room or a staff member will bring you there a stretcher. A member of the operating room team will help you onto the operating bed and place compression boots on your lower legs. These gently inflate and deflate to help blood flow in your legs.

Once you’re comfortable, your anesthesiologist will give you anesthesia through your IV line and you’ll fall asleep. You’ll also get fluids through your IV line during and after your surgery.

During your surgery

After you’re fully asleep, a breathing tube will be placed through your mouth and into your windpipe to help you breathe. You’ll also have a urinary (Foley) catheter placed to drain urine from your bladder.

During your surgery, plastic drainage tubes will be placed in the area of the replacement implant and will exit near your incision. These tubes will drain fluid from the surgical area to help reduce swelling. The drainage tubes may be stitched in place so they won’t fall out. They’re connected to a container that collects the drainage.

Once your surgery is finished, your incision will be closed with staples or sutures (stitches). You may also have Steri-Strips (thin pieces of tape) or Dermabond® (surgical glue) over your incisions. Your incisions may be covered with a bandage. Your breathing tube is usually taken out while you’re still in the operating room.

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After Your Surgery

The information in this section will tell you what to expect after your surgery, both during your hospital stay and after you leave the hospital. You’ll learn how to safely recover from your surgery.

As you read through this section, write down any questions you want to ask your healthcare provider.

In the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU)

When you wake up after your surgery, you’ll be in the PACU. A nurse will be keeping track of your body temperature, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. You may be getting oxygen through a thin tube that rests below your nose or a mask that covers your nose and mouth. You’ll also have compression boots on your lower legs.

You’ll have a Foley catheter in your bladder to monitor the amount of urine you’re making. You’ll have a pain pump called a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) device. For more information, read the resource Patient-Controlled Analgesia (PCA). If you don’t have an epidural or nerve catheter, you’ll get your pain medication through your IV line.

You’ll stay in the PACU until you’re awake and your pain is under control. Most people return to their room after a few hours in the PACU, but some will need to stay in the PACU overnight for observation.

In your hospital room

After your stay in the PACU, you’ll be taken to your hospital room. You’ll meet one of the nurses who will care for you while you’re in the hospital recovering from your surgery.

Use your incentive spirometer. This will help your lungs expand, which prevents pneumonia. For more information, read the resource How to Use Your Incentive Spirometer. You should also talk with your doctor about how to use your incentive spirometer.

Read the resource Call! Don't Fall! to learn about what you can do to stay safe and keep from falling while you’re in the hospital.

You may also have an ultrasound done before you leave the hospital. This will help us see if you have a blood clot. We can then decide what blood thinners you should take when you go home. You’ll also get antibiotics in your IV to prevent infection.

Commonly asked questions: During your hospital stay

Will I have pain after my surgery?

You’ll have some pain from your incisions after your surgery. Your doctor and nurse will ask you about your pain often and give you medication as needed. If you don’t have an epidural or nerve catheter, you’ll get your pain medication through your IV line.

If your pain isn’t relieved, tell your doctor or nurse. It’s important to control your pain so you can use your incentive spirometer and move around.

You may be given a prescription for pain medication before you leave the hospital. Talk with your doctor or nurse about possible side effects and when you should start switching to over-the-counter pain medications.

What other side effects can I expect after surgery?

The skin below your incision will feel numb after your surgery. This is because some of your nerves were cut. The numbness will go away over time.

Will I be able to eat after my surgery?

Yes. Eating a balanced diet high in protein will help you heal after surgery. Your diet should include a healthy protein source at each meal, as well as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. For more tips on increasing the amount of calories and protein in your diet, read our resource Eating Well During Your Cancer Treatment.

If you have questions about your diet, ask to see a dietitian.

How long will I have the drains?

Your drainage tubes usually remain in place for a few days after surgery. How long you have them in for depends on how much drainage you’re having. Your nurse will measure your drainage 3 times a day. Your doctor will decide when the amount is small enough to remove the drain.

Removing the drainage tubes is usually a quick procedure. It’s done in your room and you won’t need pain medication. You may feel a stinging sensation, which lasts only a few minutes.

What exercises should I do while in the hospital?

Leg exercises can help to promote good circulation and prevent blood clots. You can find them in the section called “Exercises to Do While You’re in the Hospital” of this resource. Do these exercises 10 times an hour while you’re awake.

Will there be restrictions on my activities immediately after my surgery?

Yes. After your hip replacement surgery, you must follow special hip precautions.

Depending on the surgery you had, these precautions may vary slightly. Your physical therapist (PT) and occupational therapist (OT) will go over these precautions with you. Most people will need to follow the precautions below:

  • Don’t bend at the waist or hip more than 90 degrees.
  • Don’t cross your legs while standing, sitting, or lying down.
  • Don’t rotate your operated leg (leg you had surgery on) inward. Don’t lie, sit, or stand with “pigeon-toes.”

If you have any additional or different precautions, your doctor, PT, and OT will review these with you. During your stay in the hospital, your PT and OT will teach you how to move safely in and out of bed. They’ll also show you how to complete your daily self-care tasks, such as getting dressed and going to the bathroom, while following these precautions. For more information, read the section called “Hip Precautions” of this resource.

How long will I be in the hospital?

Most people are in the hospital for about 4 days after having hip replacement surgery.

By the time you’re ready to leave the hospital, your incision will have started to heal. Before you leave the hospital, look at your incision with your nurse. Knowing what your incision looks like will help you notice any changes later.

How will I prepare to leave the hospital?

You’ll have a case manager who will help you with your discharge planning. Some people go to a short-term rehabilitation center after they leave the hospital. Others can go home directly. Everyone’s plan is different. Your medical team, PT, OT , and case manager will work with you to determine the plan best for you. Your case manager can make arrangements for any equipment, nursing, or rehabilitation you’ll need after you leave the hospital.

Commonly asked questions: At home

Read the resource What You Can Do to Avoid Falling to learn about what you can do to stay safe and keep from falling at home and during your appointments at MSK.

Will I have pain when I’m home?

The length of time each person has pain or discomfort varies. You may still have some pain when you go home and will probably be taking pain medication. Some people have soreness, tightness, or muscle aches around their incision for 6 months or longer. This doesn’t mean something is wrong.

Follow the guidelines below to help manage your pain at home.

  • Take your medications as directed and as needed.
  • Call your healthcare provider if the medication prescribed for you doesn’t ease your pain.
  • Don’t drive or drink alcohol while you’re taking prescription pain medication. Some prescription pain medications can make you drowsy. Alcohol can make the drowsiness worse.
  • As your incision heals, you’ll have less pain and need less pain medication. An over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (Advil® or Motrin®) will ease aches and discomfort.
    • Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for stopping your prescription pain medication.
    • Don’t take more of any medication than the amount directed on the label or as instructed by your healthcare provider.
    • Read the labels on all the medications you’re taking, especially if you’re taking acetaminophen. Acetaminophen is an ingredient in many over-the-counter and prescription medications. Taking too much can harm your liver. Don’t take more than one medication that contains acetaminophen without talking with a member of your care team.
  • Pain medication should help you resume your normal activities. Take enough medication to do your activities and exercises comfortably. It’s normal for your pain to increase a little as you start to be more active.
  • Keep track of when you take your pain medication. It works best 30 to 45 minutes after you take it. Taking it when you first have pain is better than waiting for the pain to get worse.

Pain medication may cause constipation (having fewer bowel movements than what’s normal for you).

How can I prevent constipation?

Your normal bowel pattern may change after surgery. You may have trouble passing stool (pooping). Talk with your nurse about how to manage constipation. You can also follow the guidelines below.

  • Go to the bathroom at the same time every day. Your body will get used to going at that time. However, if you feel the urge to go, don’t put it off.
  • Try to use the bathroom 5 to 15 minutes after meals. After breakfast is a good time to move your bowels. The reflexes in your colon are strongest at this time.
  • Exercise, if you can. Walking is an excellent form of exercise.
  • Drink 8 (8-ounce) glasses (2 liters) of liquids daily, if you can. Drink water, juices, soups, ice cream shakes, and other drinks that don’t have caffeine. Drinks with caffeine, such as coffee and soda, pull fluid out of your body.
  • Slowly raise the fiber in your diet to 25 to 35 grams per day. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and cereals contain fiber. If you have an ostomy or have had recent bowel surgery, check with your doctor or nurse before making any changes in your diet.
  • Both over-the-counter and prescription medications are available to treat constipation. Try one of the following over-the-counter medications first. Follow the instructions on the medication label or from your healthcare provider.
    • Docusate sodium (Colace®): This is a stool softener that causes few side effects. Don’t take it with mineral oil.
    • Polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX®): This is a laxative that causes few side effects.
    • Senna (Senokot®): This is a stimulant laxative, which can cause cramping. It’s best to take it at bedtime.
  • If you haven’t had a bowel movement in 2 days, call your doctor or nurse.

For more information, read the resource Constipation.

When should I change my bandage?

If your healthcare provider gives you other instructions (such as leaving your bandage in place until your post-op visit), follow their instructions instead.

If your healthcare provider covered your incision with a regular dressing (white gauze and tape):

  • Don’t remove or change your dressing for 2 days after your surgery. Call your healthcareprovider if your dressing becomes full.
  • After 2 days, remove your dressing. Replace it with clean, dry gauze.
  • Change the gauze every day and whenever it gets wet or dirty.

If your healthcare provider covered your incision with a Mepilex dressing (a tan dressing with a soft, squishy center):

  • Don’t remove or change your Mepilex dressing for 1 week after your surgery.
  • After 1 week, remove your Mepilex dressing. Replace it with clean, dry gauze.
  • Change the gauze every day and whenever it gets wet or dirty

Look at your incision each time you change your gauze. Your incision may look slightly red, swollen, or bruised. This is normal. If your incision is getting more red or swollen or if you notice drainage (liquid) or a bad smell coming from your incision, call your healthcare provider. These things are signs of an infection.

How do I care for my incision?

If your healthcare provider gave you other instructions, follow their instructions instead.

  • Don’t get your incision wet until you see your healthcare provider at your follow-upappointment. You can sponge bathe, but make sure to cover your incision with a cast bag, cleangarbage bag and tape, or plastic wrap and tape to keep it dry. Your healthcare provider will tellyou when you can start washing your incision.
  • Don’t put lotions or creams on your incision unless your healthcare provider tells you to.
  • If your incision is closed with sutures (stitches) or staples, they’ll likely be removed during your follow-up appointment.
  • If your incision is covered with Steri-Strips, leave them in place until they fall off or until yourhealthcare provider takes them off.

When can I shower?

You can shower after your sutures are removed, which is usually 2 to 3 weeks after your surgery. Until then, you can take sponge baths but don’t get your incisions wet.

When you shower, remove your bandages and use soap to gently wash your incisions. Pat the areas dry with a clean towel after showering. Leave your incision uncovered, unless there’s drainage. If you still have drainage, apply a new bandage to your incision after your shower.

Don’t take tub baths until you discuss it with your doctor at the first appointment after your surgery. Avoid hot tubs, saunas, and swimming pools until your doctor or nurse tell you it’s okay.

What activity restrictions will I have after I leave the hospital?

After your surgery, you must follow special hip precautions. If you receive additional physical or occupational therapy after you leave the hospital, your therapists will continue to teach you ways to move safely. This will help you get stronger and comfortable walking and doing your normal activities.

When is it safe for me to drive?

You can start driving again when your doctor tells you it’s safe for you to do so. This is usually 3 months after your surgery.

When can I return to work?

The time it takes to return to work depends on the type of work you do, the type of surgery you had, and how fast your body heals. Ask your doctor when you’ll be able to return to work.

When can I resume sexual activity?

Ask your doctor how soon after going home you may resume sexual activity. For most people, it will be 2 weeks after you leave the hospital.

In order to follow hip precautions, the only limitation is on the positions you may use during sexual activity. You may be on the bottom or lie on your side. Keep 2 pillows between your knees to keep a space between them of 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimerers).

Try to plan the timing of your sexual activity for when you’re the most comfortable. Some people find they feel better in the morning. Others feel stiff and sore at that time. Taking your pain medication about 45 minutes before the desired time may also be helpful.

Are there any other precautions that I must take?

If you’re going to have any procedure that might cause bleeding, you must tell your doctor or dentist that you have a hip prosthesis. You should take an antibiotic. If you get an infection in your body, it may infect your new hip joint. For more information, read our resource Preventing an Infection in Your Bone or Joint Replacement Prosthesis.

Is it normal to feel tired after surgery?

Feeling tired (fatigue) is the most common side effect after a hip replacement. This is normal. You may need a nap during the day, but try to stay out of bed as much as possible. That will help you sleep at night. It usually takes 6 to 8 weeks until your energy level returns to normal.

When can I lift heavy objects or exercise?

Don’t do any strenuous exercise or heavy lifting until your doctor tells you that you can. You may need special instructions for exercise.

How can I cope with my feelings?

After surgery for a serious illness, you may have new and upsetting feelings. Many people say they felt weepy, sad, worried, nervous, irritable, and angry at one time or another. You may find that you can’t control some of these feelings. If this happens, it’s a good idea to seek emotional support.

The first step in coping is to talk about how you feel. Family and friends can help. Your nurse, doctor, and social worker can reassure, support, and guide you. It’s always a good idea to let these professionals know how you, your family, and your friends are feeling emotionally. Many resources are available to patients and their families. Whether you’re in the hospital or at home, the nurses, doctors, and social workers are here to help you and your family and friends handle the emotional aspects of your illness.

When is my first appointment after surgery?

Your first appointment will be about 2 weeks after you leave the hospital. Please call your doctor’s office as soon as possible after you leave the hospital to make the appointment.

What if I have other questions?

If you have any questions or concerns, talk with your doctor or nurse. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, call 212-639-2000 and ask for the doctor on call for your doctor.

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When to Contact Your Healthcare Provider

Contact your healthcare provider if you have:

  • A fever of 101° F (38.3° C) or higher
  • Numbness, tingling (pins and needles), or burning of your toes
  • Pain that doesn’t go away with medication or pain that’s getting worse
  • Drainage or a foul odor (bad smell) coming from your incision
  • Trouble moving your toes
  • Increased swelling that isn’t relieved when you elevate your hip that had the replacement
  • Toes that are very cold and not warmed by covering them
  • Increased redness around your incision
  • Trouble breathing
  • Any unexpected or unexplained problems
  • Any questions or concerns

Exercises to do while you’re in the hospital

Ankle pumps

Figure 1. Ankle pumps

Figure 1. Ankle pumps

  1. Lie on your back with your head and shoulders supported on pillows. You can also do this exercise while sitting.
  2. Point your toes up toward your nose (see Figure 1). You can do this with both feet at the same time.
  3. Then, point them toward the floor.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Do this exercise every hour that you’re awake.

Quadriceps sets

Figure 2. Quadriceps sets

Figure 2. Quadriceps sets

  1. Lie on your back with your head and shoulders supported on pillows.
  2. Straighten your legs as much as you can.
  3. Push the backs of your knees down into the bed while tightening the muscles on the top of your thighs (see Figure 2).
  4. Hold the position and count out loud to 5.
  5. Relax.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Do this exercise every hour that you’re awake.

Gluteal sets

Figure 3. Gluteal sets

Figure 3. Gluteal sets

  1. Lie on your back with your head and shoulders supported on pillows.
  2. Straighten your legs as much as you can.
  3. Squeeze your buttocks together tightly (see Figure 3).
  4. Hold the position and count out loud to 5.
  5. Relax your buttocks.
  6. Repeat 10 times.

Do this exercise every hour that you are awake.

Hip precautions

Safe moving during everyday activities

You need to follow special hip precautions. Here are some ways that you can adjust your activities to make sure that you follow your precautions.

Stand with your toes pointing straight ahead, about 6 to 10 inches (15 to 25 centimeters) apart. Don’t stand with your toes pointing in or out (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Standing positions after a hip replacement

Figure 1. Standing positions after a hip replacement

When you need to pick something up, use your reacher (see Figure 2). Don’t bend over.

Figure 2. Using reacher to pick up things

Figure 2. Using reacher to pick up things

Move your upper and lower body as one unit. Make sure that your shoulders, hips, and knees are pointing in the same direction as your feet (see Figure 3). Don’t twist your body.

Figure 3. Moving upper and lower body as one unit

Figure 3. Moving upper and lower body as one unit

Scoot to the edge and use the arms of your chair when rising from a chair (see Figure 4). Don’t bend forward to stand up.

Figure 4. Standing up from a chair

Figure 4. Standing up from a chair

Sit on a raised toilet seat or on a firm cushion in a chair (see Figure 5). Don’t sit on low seats.

Figure 5. Sitting on firm chairs

Figure 5. Sitting on firm chairs

Sit with your legs uncrossed (see Figure 6). Don’t cross your legs while sitting or lying down.

Figure 6. Sitting with uncrossed legs

Figure 6. Sitting with uncrossed legs

Put on your slippers when you’re standing (see Figure 7). Don’t lean down or over to the side to get your slippers from under the bed.

Figure 7. Putting on slippers while standing

Figure 7. Putting on slippers while standing

Pull the blanket and sheets half way up before getting into bed (see Figure 8). Don’t lean forward to pull them up after getting into bed.

Figure 8. Pulling on blankets before getting into bed

Figure 8. Pulling on blankets before getting into bed

Sleep with 1 pillow between your legs when lying on your back. Sleep with 2 pillows when lying on side. You can also lie on your stomach as long as you turn toward your unoperated side (side you didn’t have surgery on), have a pillow between your legs, and your operative leg (leg you had surgery on) turns as a whole unit. Your foot, knee and hip should turn together (see Figure 9).

Figure 9. Sleeping positions after a hip replacement

Figure 9. Sleeping positions after a hip replacement

Don’t sleep on your back or unoperated side without pillows between your legs. Don’t lie on your operated side (the side you had surgery on) until your doctor tells you it’s okay.

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Support Services

This section has a list of support services that may help you get ready for your surgery and recover safely.

As you read through this section, write down any questions you want to ask your healthcare provider.

    MSK support services

    For more online information, visit the Cancer Types section of www.mskcc.org.

    Admitting Office
    212-639-7606
    Call if you have questions about your hospital admission, including requesting a private room.

    Anesthesia
    212-639-6840
    Call if you have questions about anesthesia.

    Blood Donor Room
    212-639-7643
    Call for information if you’re interested in donating blood or platelets.

    Bobst International Center
    888-675-7722
    MSK welcomes patients from around the world. If you’re an international patient, call for help arranging your care.

    Counseling Center
    646-888-0200
    Many people find that counseling helps them. We provide counseling for individuals, couples, families, and groups, as well as medications to help if you feel anxious or depressed. To make an appointment, ask your healthcare provider for a referral or call the number above.

    Female Sexual Medicine and Women’s Health Program
    646-888-5076
    Cancer and cancer treatments can have an impact on your sexual health. Our Female Sexual Medicine and Women’s Health Program can help if you’re dealing with cancer-related sexual health challenges such as premature menopause or fertility issues. Call for more information or to make an appointment. We can help you take action and address sexual health issues before, during, or after your treatment.

    Food Pantry Program
    646-888-8055
    The food pantry program provides food to people in need during their cancer treatment. For more information, talk with your healthcare provider or call the number above.

    Integrative Medicine Service
    646-888-0800
    Integrative Medicine Service offers many services to complement (go along with) traditional medical care, including music therapy, mind/body therapies, dance and movement therapy, yoga, and touch therapy.

    Male Sexual and Reproductive Medicine Program
    646-888-6024
    Cancer and cancer treatments can have an impact on your sexual health. Our Male Sexual and Reproductive Medicine Program can help if you’re dealing with cancer-related sexual health challenges such as erectile dysfunction (ED). Call for information or to make an appointment. We can help you take action and address sexual health issues before, during, or after your treatment.

    MSK Library
    library.mskcc.org
    212-639-7439
    You can visit our library website or speak with the library reference staff to find more information about your specific cancer type. You can also visit LibGuides on MSK’s library website at libguides.mskcc.org

    Patient and Caregiver Education
    www.mskcc.org/pe
    Visit the Patient and Caregiver Education website to search our virtual library. There you can find written educational resources, videos, and online programs.

    Patient and Caregiver Peer Support Program
    212-639-5007
    You may find it comforting to speak with someone who has been through a treatment like yours. You can talk with a former MSK patient or caregiver through our Patient and Caregiver Peer Support Program. These conversations are confidential. They may take place in person or over the phone.

    Patient Billing
    646-227-3378
    Call if you have questions about preauthorization with your insurance company. This is also called preapproval.

    Patient Representative Office
    212-639-7202
    Call if you have questions about the Health Care Proxy form or if you have concerns about your care.

    Perioperative Nurse Liaison
    212-639-5935
    Call if you have questions about MSK releasing any information while you’re having surgery.

    Private Duty Nursing Office
    212-639-6892
    You may request private nurses or companions. Call for more information.

    Resources for Life After Cancer (RLAC) Program
    646-888-8106
    At MSK, care doesn’t end after active treatment. The RLAC Program is for patients and their families who have finished treatment. This program has many services, including seminars, workshops, support groups, counseling on life after treatment, and help with insurance and employment issues.

    Social Work
    212-639-7020
    Social workers help patients, family, and friends deal with issues that are common for cancer patients. They provide individual counseling and support groups throughout the course of treatment and can help you communicate with children and other family members. Our social workers can also help refer you to community agencies and programs, as well as financial resources if you’re eligible.

    Spiritual Care
    212-639-5982
    Our chaplains (spiritual counselors) are available to listen, help support family members, pray, contact community clergy or faith groups, or simply be a comforting companion and a spiritual presence. Anyone can request spiritual support, regardless of formal religious affiliation. MSK’s interfaith chapel is located near Memorial Hospital’s main lobby. It’s open 24 hours a day. If you have an emergency, call 212-639-2000. Ask for the chaplain on call.

    Tobacco Treatment Program
    212-610-0507
    If you want to quit smoking, MSK has specialists who can help. Call for information.

    Virtual Programs
    www.mskcc.org/vp
    MSK’s Virtual Programs offer online education and support for patients and caregivers, even when you can’t come to MSK in person. Through live, interactive sessions, you can learn about your diagnosis, what to expect during treatment, and how to prepare for the various stages of your cancer care. Sessions are confidential, free, and led by expert clinical staff. If you’re interested in joining a Virtual Program, visit our website at www.mskcc.org/vp for more information.

    External support services

    Access-A-Ride
    web.mta.info/nyct/paratran/guide.htm
    877-337-2017
    In New York City, the MTA offers a shared ride, door-to-door service for people with disabilities who can’t take the public bus or subway.

    Air Charity Network
    www.aircharitynetwork.org
    877-621-7177
    Provides travel to treatment centers.

    American Cancer Society (ACS)
    www.cancer.org
    800-ACS-2345 (800-227-2345)
    Offers a variety of information and services, including Hope Lodge, a free place for patients and caregivers to stay during cancer treatment.

    Cancer and Careers
    www.cancerandcareers.org
    A resource for education, tools, and events for employees with cancer.

    CancerCare
    www.cancercare.org
    800-813-4673
    275 Seventh Avenue (Between West 25th & 26th Streets)
    New York, NY 10001
    Provides counseling, support groups, educational workshops, publications, and financial assistance.

    Cancer Support Community
    www.cancersupportcommunity.org
    Provides support and education to people affected by cancer.

    Caregiver Action Network
    www.caregiveraction.org
    800-896-3650
    Provides education and support for people who care for loved ones with a chronic illness or disability.

    Corporate Angel Network
    www.corpangelnetwork.org
    866-328-1313
    Offers free travel to treatment across the country using empty seats on corporate jets.

    Gilda’s Club
    www.gildasclubnyc.org
    212-647-9700
    A place where men, women, and children living with cancer find social and emotional support through networking, workshops, lectures, and social activities.

    Good Days
    www.mygooddays.org
    877-968-7233
    Offers financial assistance to pay for copayments during treatment. Patients must have medical insurance, meet the income criteria, and be prescribed medication that’s part of the Good Days formulary.

    Healthwell Foundation
    www.healthwellfoundation.org
    800-675-8416
    Provides financial assistance to cover copayments, health care premiums, and deductibles for certain medications and therapies.

    Joe’s House
    www.joeshouse.org
    877-563-7468
    Provides a list of places to stay near treatment centers for people with cancer and their families.

    LGBT Cancer Project
    http://lgbtcancer.com/
    Provides support and advocacy for the LGBT community, including online support groups and a database of LGBT-friendly clinical trials.

    LIVESTRONG Fertility
    www.livestrong.org/we-can-help/fertility-services
    855-744-7777
    Provides reproductive information and support to cancer patients and survivors whose medical treatments have risks associated with infertility.

    Look Good Feel Better Program
    www.lookgoodfeelbetter.org
    800-395-LOOK (800-395-5665)
    This program offers workshops to learn things you can do to help you feel better about your appearance. For more information or to sign up for a workshop, call the number above or visit the program’s website.

    National Cancer Institute
    www.cancer.gov
    800-4-CANCER (800-422-6237)

    National Cancer Legal Services Network
    www.nclsn.org
    Free cancer legal advocacy program.

    National LGBT Cancer Network
    www.cancer-network.org
    Provides education, training, and advocacy for LGBT cancer survivors and those at risk.

    Needy Meds
    www.needymeds.org
    Lists Patient Assistance Programs for brand and generic name medications.

    NYRx
    www.nyrxplan.com
    Provides prescription benefits to eligible employees and retirees of public sector employers in New York State.

    Partnership for Prescription Assistance
    www.pparx.org
    888-477-2669
    Helps qualifying patients without prescription drug coverage get free or low-cost medications.

    Patient Access Network Foundation
    www.panfoundation.org
    866-316-7263
    Provides assistance with copayments for patients with insurance.

    Patient Advocate Foundation
    www.patientadvocate.org
    800-532-5274
    Provides access to care, financial assistance, insurance assistance, job retention assistance, and access to the national underinsured resource directory.

    RxHope
    www.rxhope.com
    877-267-0517
    Provides assistance to help people get medications that they have trouble affording.

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    Educational Resources

    This section has the educational resources mentioned in this guide. These resources will help you get ready for your surgery and recover safely after surgery.

    As you read through these resources, write down any questions you want to ask your healthcare provider.

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