What is hip replacement surgery?

A hip replacement involves removing damaged bone and cartilage from a patient’s hip and replacing it with a prosthetic joint.

85% of hip joint implants will last for approximately 20 years.

Causes and needs for surgery

Hip replacement surgery is often recommended for hip pain that has lasted several years and creates difficulty in moving.

Surgery is needed if this pain has not improved with medication or physiotherapy and is persistent even when resting, making it difficult to undertake regular activities.

Your surgeon will help you understand your options and decide whether surgery is the most appropriate treatment.

The operation

During a hip replacement, the incision is kept as small as possible, with as much healthy tissue left undisturbed (minimally invasive).

A cut is made along the side of the hip and the muscles are exposed. The ball portion of joint is removed by cutting along the thigh bone and an artificial joint is attached to the thigh bone.

The damaged cartilage is removed and a replacement socket is attached to the hip bone. The new ball joint is then inserted into the new socket. A drain may be needed to remove excess fluid from the joint. The muscles and tendons are then reattached and the incision is closed with stitches. The skin surface is typically closed using a glue rather than staples for minimal scarring.

Complications and risks

There are very few patients who experience any complications post-surgery – less than 2% of patients who receive hip replacements encounter major complications, such as infection in the joint.

Other possible complications include infections around the joint, blood clots, possible hip dislocation (especially in the first few months post-operation), or nerve and blood vessel injury.


After surgery, patients will likely need to stay in hospital for four to six days and will need to rest in bed. A wedge pillow may be used between your legs to allow for the new joint to stay in the correct position during initial recovery.

Physiotherapy usually begins the day after surgery and within days you should be able to walk on crutches. Other important ‘at home’ recovery tips include: keeping stair climbing to a minimum (recommended only once or twice a day if necessary), sitting in a firm, straight-back chair and avoiding recliners, keeping rooms clutter free to prevent tripping hazards and using an elevated toilet seat to help stop you from bending too far at the hips.

For 6-12 months after surgery, you should continue to avoid pivoting or twisting on the impacted leg and joint, including bending forward at the waist or squatting.

Our Results

We welcome you to view our live reported feedback from patients who have received hip replacements at The Joint Studio. To compare feedback against the broader industry average, please open the latest report on patient outcomes by the New Zealand Joint Registry.