What should I expect with a hip replacement?

What should I expect with a hip replacement?

We get this question quite frequently. However, the first question to ask is: “Do I need a hip replacement?” To see if you are a candidate for this elective surgery, your surgeon will talk with you about your medical history, perform a physical exam and review your x-rays. If the decision to move forward is made, you are typically able to pick a surgery date that is most convenient for you. Be sure to keep in mind that recovery after a hip replacement takes on average 6-8 weeks.

Preparing for surgery

After scheduling, you will meet with our perioperative team to make sure you are optimized prior to surgery. Our team looks for issues such as uncontrolled diabetes, heart issues and kidney problems.  In addition, all joint replacement patients attend a “Joint Class” for a more thorough understanding about the procedure, risks of surgery and the recovery process. Patients are strongly educated about smoking cessation prior to surgery to decrease their chance of infection.

Day of surgery

At Marshall Orthopaedics, we prefer minimally invasive hip surgery. This type of surgery is usually performed from the “anterior” approach through a 4-5 inch incision located near the anterolateral part of the hip (where your front pocket would be if you were wearing a pair of jeans).  The approach is unique because we dissect between muscles to reach the hip joint to minimize soft tissue trauma.  The entire procedure can be performed through this small incision in about 60-80 minutes. 

To customize the surgery, we use computer software to help select implants that best match your anatomy. During a hip replacement, a metal stem (usually titanium) is placed down the top of the thigh bone, and a metal cup is inserted into the socket portion of the pelvis.  A new ball made of cobalt-chromium or ceramic is then placed on top of the stem.  This ball articulates on a plastic polyethylene liner that is secured to the metal cup.  Research has shown today’s implants last between 15-20 years. 

After surgery, you will meet with a physical therapist in the recovery room where you will take your first steps with the new hip within a few hours of surgery.  While most patients state they have some muscle soreness around the incision site, they are amazed the pain they had before surgery is totally gone!

Later in the afternoon, you will be transferred to the “Total Joint Unit” where you will recuperate in a private room and work with a therapist or nursing staff. Before going home, the therapist will ensure you can transfer sit to stand, negotiate in the bathroom and ascend/descend stairs. Our patients are usually in the hospital for less than 24 hours as long as they meet safety goals and are medically stable. Research shows that the majority of patients can safely return home after hip replacement.


Once you are discharged from the hospital, you will continue home exercises and attend outpatient physical therapy later in the week. Patients usually are walking without an assistive device by two weeks and back to driving within 4 weeks. Your follow up with the surgeon occurs about 6 weeks after surgery. Our support staff will keep close tabs on you and is just a phone call away.

For more information about hip replacement surgery or to schedule a consultation, call Marshall Orthopaedics at 304-691-1262.


Matthew W. Bullock, DO, MPT

Dr. Bullock is a board-certified, fellowship-trained hip and knee surgeon specializing in primary and revision replacement. He is an assistant professor at Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.