Total Joint Replacement 101: Surgery Day

The day is finally here – it’s time for your total joint replacement surgery! According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the majority of patients can expect their joint replacement to last for many years, providing them with an improved quality of life that includes less pain, along with improved motion and strength. Here’s what you can expect when your surgery day is here.

Before You Leave the House

  • Wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing.
  • Do not wear nail polish, makeup, lotions, or perfumes.
  • If you wear contacts, please leave your contacts at home and wear your glasses on surgery day.
  • Wear your dentures, partials, and hearing aids if applicable.


  • The pre-surgery nurse will call you back to a pre-surgery area. You will change into a gown and have your IV started.
  • Your surgical site will be prepped, which means your hair will be clipped and side marked.
  • You will meet your anesthesiologist, who will be responsible for your anesthetic care throughout the duration of your surgery.
  • Your nurse will have you take any pre-surgery medications.
  • You will be asked to wipe down your body with Chlorohexidine wipes. This decreases the overall bacteria on your body and can decrease your risk of infection.


Total joint replacement surgery will generally take 1.5 – 2 hours. Your care team can wait in the waiting area. Have them check in with the receptionist so the joint replacement surgeon will be able to locate them after surgery is complete.

During your surgery, the damaged areas of the joint will be removed; this includes bone and cartilage. The metal or ceramic implant will be put into place, and your new joint will be complete.

After Surgery

You will wake up in the recovery room. The nurses will check your vitals, administer medications, and assess your surgical dressing. The nurses will allow you to drink sips of fluids as you start to awaken.


After joint replacement surgery, you will get up and out of bed with either the physical therapist or the nurse. Typically, you can put as much weight as comfortable on your operative joint. You can sit in a chair or walk in the hallway depending on how you are feeling and what your provider recommends.

Goals for Discharge

  • Meet therapy goals (see below)
  • Adequate pain control
  • Urinating without difficulty
  • Bowel care

Therapy Discharge Goals

  • Get in and out of bed with minimal help
  • Walk safely with walker
  • Be able to safely dress, bathe, and complete toileting
  • Walk an adequate distance to make you safe at home
  • Be able to walk up and down two or more stairs safely
  • Are able to follow hip precautions, if applicable

Your surgeon and staff will go over your after-surgery care and answer any questions you have. Follow their post-operative instructions closely. If you have any questions or concerns, call The Center at 541-382-3344.