When you're discharged from the hospital with either your hip or knee replacement, patients will go home with a bandage in place. Typically, we leave that bandage in place and don't rely on the patient to change the bandage in any way. All we ask is that you don't submerge the incision itself underwater. The dressing itself is waterproof to the fact that you can shower immediately and let the water run right over the dressing. You pat it dry with a clean cloth and keep the area clean and dry. In approximately 10 days, we will remove the dressing in the office together to make sure the wound is healing properly. During the first few days after surgery, it is normal to experience discomfort and pain. I want to make sure you stay ahead of the pain. Make sure you take the pain medicines ahead of your discomfort. It is much more difficult to control the pain when you have spikes of pain rather than keeping the pain at a low minimum. This is very important during your recovery process. Most patients after surgery will require the use of a walker for the first four or five days following the procedure. Eventually, you drop the walker and pick up a cane for the next few days, potentially even up to a week. The majority of patients returning for their first postoperative visit at approximately two weeks no longer require the use of any ambulatory aids. Although certainly if the patient required any use of a walker or a cane prior to surgery, they're much more likely to require a longer period of time with these devices. The majority of the care for your joint replacement in the early postoperative period is centered around keeping your incision clean and dry. Infection is still one of the highest complications and certainly the most devastating.
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