Hospital for Special Surgery - Surgery and Rehabilitation Guide::Tips for Returning Home
HSS Logo

Tips for Returning Home


Below are some general guidelines to assist you as you transition home after surgery. If you have specific questions, please speak to your therapist or call your physician’s office.

Driving

  • Please check with your MD regarding instructions on driving.

Hygiene

  • You may shower once you are home.

Management of swelling

  • You may encounter bruising and/or swelling in the operated leg.
  • Swelling can be minimized by elevating the left leg when resting in bed.
  • Icing may be helpful in managing swelling. Please follow your surgeon's instructions regarding ice application.
  • When elevating the leg, the ankle should be above the level of the heart and the knee must be straight:

    image of man laying in bed with left leg propped on pillows

Around the house

  • Roll up throw rugs and clear any loose wires from phones, computers, TVs, etc from the floor to reduce the risk of tripping and falling.
  • Chairs that have arm rests are best to use. Avoid chairs with wheels that may move while you’re trying to sit down or stand up.
  • Put nightlights near the bathroom and in hallways to help you walk around safely at night.
  • If you have a pet who tends to jump up on you when you come home, it’s a good idea to keep them crated or in a separate room until you can sit down so that they don’t accidentally knock you off balance or get tangled under your feet.

What to eat

  • Plan meals ahead of time that are pre-made, heat and serve, or easy to prepare.

What to wear

  • Choose loose fitting clothing that is easy to get on and off.
  • Wear a pair of slip-on rubber soled shoes to walk more safely.

Exercise

  • Try to walk short distance multiple times a day, increasing the distance/frequency as tolerated.
  • Avoid cobblestones/slopes.
  • At 2 weeks after surgery, you should be able to walk up to a mile cumulatively in a day.
  • You many begin using a stationary bike as soon as tolerated.
  • Please check with your MD regarding using the pool after surgery.

Follow-up appointment

  • Your first MD follow-up is 4-6 weeks after surgery. Please call your surgeon’s office to make this appointment.