Hip Replacement Surgery: How to Prepare

Table of Contents
View All
Table of Contents

There are several things you need to keep in mind as you prepare for a total hip replacement surgery. You might need to adjust some of your medications, like blood thinners. And you need to prepare your home so it will be easy and safe for you to get around as you are recovering.

Total hip replacement, also known as total hip arthroplasty, is the removal of the “ball and socket” of the original hip joint, and replacement with a prosthesis (artificial joint). This surgery is usually done when the hip joint has severely deteriorated and after other therapies have not been effective.

Because it's a major procedure, you will have to plan for a hospital stay and a long recovery period. Keep reading to find out how you will prepare for a total hip replacement.

Doctor welcomes woman checking in for hip replacement surgery
sturti / E+ / Getty Images

Location

On the first day, you will arrive at the hospital and begin preparation for surgery. Total hip replacement is not usually done as an outpatient procedure or in a freestanding surgery center.

When you have a total hip replacement, you should expect to be in the hospital for one to three days, usually staying two nights as an inpatient. In the days right after your surgery, your doctor will need to monitor your heart rate, blood, pressure, and oxygen levels.

You will be examined for complications like blood clots or excessive bleeding from the surgery—these issues should be identified and treated right away. Your doctors and nurses will help you control your pain and advise you on how to continue your recovery at home.

What to Wear

You may be asked to bathe with a special soap at home before you arrive for surgery. Once at the hospital, your skin will be cleaned again to prevent infection.

One of the first things you will do after arriving at the hospital is to change out of your regular clothes and into a hospital gown.

You can bring a change of clothes for after the surgery, but since you will stay at the hospital for several days, you can have someone bring you fresh clothes when it’s time to leave.

Food and Drink

In the days before your surgery, your doctor will give you specific instructions about how to prepare. Your doctor should advise you to:

  • Not eat or drink anything after midnight on the night before your surgery
  • Not eat or drink anything on the day of surgery before your arrival
  • That if you have something to drink on the day of surgery, clear liquids are preferred.

If you have medications that you need to take, it's usually ok to take medications with a sip of water, but be sure to check with your doctor about this first.

Eating or drinking before surgery can cause complications with anesthesia. If you have food or drink in your stomach, it can increase the chances you could vomit and the liquids may enter your lungs—a condition called aspiration.

Medications

It is very important to discuss your regular medications with your doctor well before the day of surgery. Some medications such as blood thinners, can increase the risk of serious surgical complications. These or other medications may have to be adjusted or stopped.

Make sure you carefully follow instructions about stopping or adjusting medications before your surgery. Some medications you might need to stop taking in the days or weeks prior to your surgery include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin. These should be stopped about a week before surgery. They can increase your risk of bleeding during surgery.
  • Prescription blood thinners might need to be stopped before surgery, but your doctor will advise you on how and when to stop these medications. Some medications in this group include clopidogrel (Plavix), enoxaparin (Lovenox), warfarin (Coumadin), and apixaban (Eliquis). Long-acting blood thinners, such as coumadin (warfarin), may need to be switched to a different, shorter-acting blood thinner such as Lovenox injections as a bridge to surgery.
  • Vitamins and supplements you usually take should be listed in detail and discussed with your doctor. While these seem harmless, they can have negative effects on your body during surgery. Some supplements your doctor may advise you to avoid in the weeks before and after your surgery include vitamin E, ginseng, glucosamine, fish oil, and ginkgo biloba.

What to Bring

You make also want to pack the following items for your hospital stay:

  • Health insurance card
  • Identification
  • A robe or loose-fitting clothes
  • Slip-on shoes
  • Toiletries
  • Comfortable clothing for therapy that is easy to put on and remove
  • Cell phone and charger
  • A book, e-book, or activity for your rest time.

Do not bring valuables or jewelry with you to the hospital.

Pre-Op Lifestyle Changes

Before your surgery, you might need to make some lifestyle changes to ensure a good recovery. If you smoke, you doctor will ask you to quit as soon as possible before surgery—at least two months in advance is ideal. Tobacco use can interfere with your ability to heal.

If you have dental problems, you should get them treated at least two weeks before your surgery.

Dental procedures can increase the chances that bacteria will enter your bloodstream. This could lead to an infection that could reach your new hip joint. Be sure to tell your doctor if you need any urgent dental procedures in the weeks before your surgery.

You may also want to think ahead and make a few preparations at home to help you after your surgery. These may include:

  • Removing throw rugs
  • Clearing pathways throughout the house
  • Secure or move wires or cables that could cause you to trip or fall
  • Installing rails or grab bars
  • Installing a raised toilet seat
  • Securing a bathtub or shower chair
  • Purchasing a reacher or grabber tool
  • Have compression socks or other support hose
  • Finding a shoehorn or other device to help you put on socks and shoes without bending over
  • Placing everyday items where you can easily reach them

After your surgery, you will have limited mobility. Plan to have a friend or relative stay with you, ideally for the first few days or week. If you don’t have anyone who can stay with you, tell your doctor, and they may be able to arrange help.

You will also need someone to drive you home when you are discharged from the hospital, and someone to drive you to therapy and follow-up appointments.

A Word From Verywell

A hip replacement is a major surgery. You may be experiencing a lot of pain before your surgery, but keep in mind that this surgery is very involved, and recovery will take a long time. In the end, you should have less pain after your hip replacement is healed, but making the proper preparations before your surgery can help improve your healing and overall recovery.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. UCSF Health. Preparing for hip replacement surgery.

  2. Mayo Clinic. Hip replacement. February 2020. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/hip-replacement/about/pac-20385042.

  3. Cleveland Clinic. Hip replacement surgery: Recovery and outlook.