What things should you do before having hip replacement surgery? Taking these important steps will prepare YOU, your health, and your home prior to your surgery. They will help provide a better surgical outcome, prepare you mentally, prevent injuries, and make recovery time easier for you.
Let’s get started helping you with YOUR hip replacement experience.
1 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Lose Weight
If you are overweight, you should lose weight before hip replacement surgery. Studies show that outcomes are much better for hip replacement patients who are at or near their normal weight. Patients who are overweight put more force on the joints for day-to-day activity. Also, those who are overweight may lose more blood during surgery and have a greater risk of blood clots.
If you are having trouble losing weight, talk to your doctor. He or she might refer you to a dietician. If you need hip surgery right away, some surgeons, hospitals and insurances may recommend bariatric surgery to aid in your weight loss.
Bariatric surgery offers a very good outcome and is also less risky than hip replacement surgery.
I lost over 50 lbs before surgery by eating more protein and less sugar and carbs. I also went to the gym at least three times per week. I didn’t know I was going to need surgery and the weight loss likely created a better outcome in surgery and a faster recovery.
2- Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Quit Smoking
If you currently smoke, your physician will recommend you stop long before having surgery. Studies show that smoking reduces good hip replacement surgery outcomes. Smoking also increases the chances of blood clots after surgery. Guarding against blood clots after hip replacement surgery is vitally important – even the smallest of blood clots could create a pulmonary embolism.
3 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Physical Therapy
Studies also show that physical therapy improves hip replacement surgery outcomes and reduces the length of post-surgical recovery. Some surgeons and hospitals require physical therapy before hip replacement surgery to help patient outcomes and increase successes. (redundant?)
4 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Find a Helper
You should have someone to help you while you are in the hospital and after you get home. You could probably make it through the hospital without anyone to help, but it is always beneficial to have a friend or relative. This person might be able to talk with the doctor and nurses to understand your plan of care while in the hospital and as you transition to home. Ideally, the person who cares for you in the hospital will be the same one to care for you when you return home. The hospital could extend your stay if you do not have help at home, or they may send you to a rehabilitation center until you are able to get around on your own. You will not be able to drive for several weeks after your surgery and you need someone to help you with trips to the doctor, pharmacy, and grocery store. Recovery time varies for each person depending on his or her health and the type of surgery performed.
My sister came up from another state and spent time with me in the hospital and for the week following my surgery. As a former caregiver, she helped me prepare my documents and talked with doctors after my surgery. She was a tremendous help.
5 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Discuss Your Medications with Your Doctor
Your doctor may order you to stop taking certain medications or supplements before your hip replacement surgery. If you take medications which thin your blood – such as aspirin, some painkillers, fish oil or other supplements – you may be asked to stop taking them a few weeks beforehand. It is critical that your blood has the ability to coagulate effectively before surgery to reduce the amount of bleeding.
6 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Start Newly-Prescribed Medications/Supplements
You may be asked to take certain supplements several weeks before surgery. I was instructed to take Iron FE several weeks before the surgery. If you are not used to taking iron supplements, it may make you gassy and bloated and cause constipation.
Iron is used to help you build red blood cells prior to surgery and avoid a transfusion due to loss of blood.
7 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Purchase Antiseptic Soap
I was instructed to buy an antiseptic soap prior to surgery. I used Hibiclens Skin Cleanser, Antiseptic & Antimicrobial. It comes in the form of a red liquid and stinks. It is also expensive, as far as soaps go. I was told to scrub down with this in evening before surgery and the morning of surgery. You don’t have to use this again, so you don’t need a huge bottle of it. I was provided a bottle of this during my hospital pre-op appointment.
8 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Adjust Where You Sleep
Getting in and out of bed will be one of the harder tasks for you to perform after your hip replacement surgery. If you can, you should try to lower your bed, but not so low that it is difficult for you to get out. If your feet can’t touch the floor when you sit on your bed, it will be an obstacle for you after your surgery.
Physicians recommend that you sleep on the same floor as your kitchen. The bathroom should also be on this level. Not everyone can manage these arrangement but you should do what you can. If your bedroom is on the second floor you may want to have your bed set up temporarily in your living room to reduce the amount of stairs you need to negotiate after hip replacement surgery.
9 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Prepare Ice Packs
Your leg and feet will swell after surgery and you need to apply an ice pack several times throughout the day. You should have at least two ice packs: one to use and one to refreeze. You should have a freezer or supply of ice that is located close to where you will be spending most of your time.
10 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Find a Good Chair
Find a firm chair with arms and seat which you can easily sit in – and rise from – after surgery. This will probably be where you spend most of your time. Raising the seat with cushions may help, but can be unstable and cause pain if the added cushions shift while you sit. You might want to consider raising the chair with chair raisers which can be found at many hardware stores.
11 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Install Railings and Bathroom Helpers
Wall railings are beneficial in stairwells or in your bathroom. Make sure they are installed by someone who knows what they are doing. Be careful using temporary rails in bathrooms that adhere to the wall using suction cups. The cups could easily lose suction and this could cause you to suddenly slip and fall.
Preventing falls is very important right after surgery as a fall could cause a painful and dangerous dislocation of your new hip. A small investment in rail installation by a competent installer could prevent a painful injury that could also slow down your recovery time.
12 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Purchase and Install Bathroom Helpers
A shower chair helps you take a shower after your surgery. A shower chair allows you to sit and wash off without worrying about falling.
A raised toilet seat can reduce pain and help you sit down – and get up again – with less pain and trouble. These normally fit right over the current toilet and don’t require special installation tools.
Your surgeon or insurance might have an occupational therapist inspect your home before your surgery and offer some suggestions as to what accommodations should be installed to help assure your safety after surgery.
13 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Look at Walking Aids (But Don’t Buy Them)
The problem with purchasing walking aids before surgery is you don’t know what you need after surgery. The type of walking aid you need depends upon the type of surgery you have and how well you recover. Some people need a walker, others crutches, and some just a cane. Your physical therapist in the hospital will work with you and determine what you need when you leave. In some cases, these walking aids may be provided to you when you leave.
Purchasing these devices before surgery could result in spending money on unneeded items. You can rent or lease some devices, resulting in less money spent out of pocket. It is best to find out what you need and what the hospital can provide.
14 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Look at Reaching Aids (But Don’t Buy Them)
Grabbing devices can help you reach objects above your head and on the ground. A long shoe horn or stretch shoe laces may help you put on your shoes. Some people can use sock aids to help you put on socks after your hip replacement surgery (you won’t be able to bend over to put your socks on by yourself).
I bought a sock aid but could never master using it.
An occupational therapist taught me how to use these devices in the hospital and arranged to have the devices delivered to my home after my surgery.
15 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Arrange your Living Space
Make sure the items you will need to access are within reach before surgery. You will still need to walk, and you will need to make sure you have a safe and secure path. Remove throw rugs or electrical cords which can cause a trip and fall hazard. Have books, movies, phones, iPads and remote controls close to your comfy chair so you don’t have to get up and down as much.
16 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Stock up on Groceries and Prepare Foods and Quick Meals
Make sure you have enough food which can be easily prepared and avoid making trips to the grocery store. Microwave meals are valuable during this time. Grocery delivery, like PeaPod, could help if you are recovering in the home for a long time.
17 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Arrange Personal Documents and Contacts
Make sure living wills, pharmacy contacts, family member contact information and insurance information is taken with you on the day of the operation, People will be concerned about you and they should know how to contact you while you are in the hospital or rehab.
18 – Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Invite Friends to Visit
I had my surgery a few months after moving to a new state. I am a very religious person and had no established church “family” near my new home. The hospital arranged for clergy to visit and pray with me before surgery. This calmed and prepared my mind for surgery. You should contact friends and your church to help you spiritually or emotionally.
Posting your hip surgery success on Facebook is always fun and creates some encouraging comments from your social media friends.
Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery – Conclusion
These are some of the important things you should do to prepare for your hip replacement surgery. Following these suggestions will help you be awesome before, during, and after your surgery and will set you on the road for a long life with your new hip.
I am here to serve you and help with your hip replacement experience. As always, if you have any questions or comments, please post them below or use the social media links.
Thank you very much for reading and for your support.