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During Your Hip Replacement Surgery

Hip replacement surgery, also called total hip arthroplasty, involves removing damaged bone and cartilage in your hip and replacing it with artificial parts. During a total hip replacement, your surgeon will perform the following steps: 

  1. Remove the ball part of your hip joint (femoral head) away from the socket. 
  2. Clean out damaged cartilage and bone.
  3. Insert a metal cup into your hip socket.
  4. Attach a metal stem onto your thigh bone (femur).
  5. Fit a new ball onto the stem and into the liner in your hip socket.
  6. Confirm the size, bone quality, fit, tension, and leg length are all appropriate. 

Anterior vs. Posterior Hip Replacement

The biggest difference between an anterior and posterior hip replacement is where your surgeon will make the incision (cut):

  • Anterior hip replacement—The incision is made on the front of your hip. There are multiple places where your surgeon may make this incision. 
  • Posterior hip replacement—The incision is on the side and back of your hip. 

With the posterior approach, your surgeon has a better view of your hip, but they must cut through muscles and soft tissues to access your hip. They may need to do this because of special conditions with your hip. Your recovery may take longer if your surgeon performed the posterior approach.

With an anterior approach, your surgeon works between your muscles, making fewer muscle cuts. This can speed up your recovery. However, these surgeries are more challenging because they provide a more limited view of your hip joint and femur. At University of Utah Health, our orthopedic surgeons are experienced in all surgical approaches and customize your procedure to your needs.  

How Long Does Hip Replacement Surgery Take?

A hip replacement usually takes around 1-2 hours. The length of your surgery depends on the extent of the joint damage and your overall health.

How to Prepare for Hip Replacement Surgery

Your surgeon will give you specific instructions to prepare for hip replacement surgery. You may need to stop taking certain medications temporarily. You will also need to stop eating by midnight on the day of surgery. 

You will need someone to drive you home after the procedure. Most people will need 24-hour help for a few days. You’ll need to make sure someone can stay home with you immediately after surgery. Our team will help connect you with other options if you don’t have someone to help at home.  

Hip Replacement Scar

You will have a scar several inches long on the front or back of your hip. This is because your surgeon will need to make an incision to access your hip joint. Your scar placement depends on if your hip replacedment was performed from the front (anterior) or back (posterior).

Your surgeon will give you instructions to care for your surgical incision (cut). Following these directions can help lessen the risk of complications or infection.

Hip Replacement Complications & Risks

Like all surgeries, hip replacements have some risks: 

Our surgeons take extra precautions to avoid these complications, including giving you antibiotics during surgery, and blood thinners to take at home. There’s also a risk that the new joint could dislocate. You can lower your risk of a dislocation by following your care team’s instructions after surgery.

Hip Replacement Infection 

We will give you antibiotics before and after surgery to lower your risk of infection. But there is a small chance of hip replacement infection, even several months or years after the surgery.

What Happens After Hip Replacement Surgery?

You may go home on the same day as surgery or you may stay in the hospital for 1–2 days after a hip replacement. A physical therapist will help you sit, stand, and walk around with your new joint the day of surgery. You will be able to walk immediately after surgery. 

Your physical therapist will give you exercises to practice while you recover at home. We offer additional supervision and assistance via phone, email, or video conferencing if needed. These virtual rehabilitation services allow you to receive the same great care from the comfort of your home.

Find a Hip Replacement Specialist

Schedule an Appointment

Call 801-587-7109 to request an appointment with our orthopedic specialists. Referring providers may call 1-866-850-8863 or complete our refer a patient online form.

Patient Resources

Joint Academy: Preparing for Hip Replacement Surgery

Joint Academy is an extensive pre-surgery education program for joint replacement patients and their friends, family, and care coaches.

Prep for Replacement

How to Determine Which Hip Replacement Surgery Method is Best for You

Did you know there are two kinds of hip replacement surgery? Learn about anterior and posterior approaches to hip surgery from Jeremy Gililand, MD.

Get Tips

Patient Guide: Recovery From Hip Replacement

Hip replacement can seem like a daunting process, but we will walk you through the entire way from before-surgery checklists to recovery and life after surgery.

See the Guide

Meet Our Patients