Continue reading to learn more about hip replacement surgeries and to discover a safe and effective topical solution for scar management.
Causes and types of hip replacement
The leading cause of hip pain and reduced hip functionality is osteoarthritis. This condition is marked by the deterioration of cartilage, the protective tissues found in joints that cushion two connecting bones in the body. In the case of hip joint deterioration, erosion is confined to the femoral head, the acetabulum of the pelvis, or both. You can think of the acetabulum as a concave, round opening that houses the head of the femur bone of the leg. When the unity between the acetabulum and the femoral head breaks down, joint pain and reduced hip mobility follow. Osteoarthritis affects nearly 300 million people each year, a majority of whom are over the age of 40. Though not everyone with this disease will require major corrective surgery, it greatly increases the risk.
The first recorded hip replacement surgery was attempted in Germany in 1891. At the time, ivory was the material used to replace the damaged joint. Since then, metallic prosthetic components have been used in place of the femoral head and acetabulum, with a medical grade plastic liner inserted as cushion. In a total hip replacement procedure, the femoral head and eroded cartilage lining the surface of the acetabulum are removed and replaced with the prosthetic components. Screws or bone cement are sometimes used to secure the metallic socket and ensure long-lasting stability. In contrast, partial hip replacements typically only replace the damaged femoral head in response to localized arthritis or a hip fracture. Both types of hip replacement procedures are safe, effective, and have a high rate of success.
Post-operative recovery and scar management
Recovery after a hip replacement surgery takes time, and patience is crucial during this stage. Depending on your age, how physically active you are, and various other health concerns, recovery time can differ among patients. As a general rule, complete recovery can take at least six months following surgery. Your surgeon will likely prescribe pain medication and antibiotics to ease discomfort and reduce the risk of infection. Depending on your health and strength after the operation, your surgeon may advise you to spend the night in the hospital. It’s possible to return home early if you have help from a partner or family member.
To ensure a speedy recovery, it’s important to follow the exercise regimen recommended by your surgeon or physical therapist. Walking, swimming and other light forms of physical therapy can help build up your strength. Running, heavy weight-lifting and strenuous exercise is strongly discouraged during your recovery period and sometimes thereafter.
One aspect of post-operative recovery that is often neglected is the cosmetic appearance of one’s scar. A hip replacement incision will produce a large scar on the outer thigh that can discourage patients from enjoying time at the beach or outside in the sun. One way to reduce post-surgical scarring is to wear silicone gel sheets or apply silicone sticks to the scar site. Silicone gel technology emerged 30 years ago as the only clinically-proven topical advancement in scar therapy.
Medical grade silicone works through two mechanisms of action: scar hydration and collagen regulation. Scars need an ideal healing environment, otherwise known as homeostasis, to properly heal. If wounds become dehydrated through transepidermal water loss, collagen—a common structural protein—can overproduce, leading to collagen buildup and raised, discolored scar tissue. By fully encapsulating the scar site, silicone gives the user control over the moisture and collagen levels on the surface of the skin. By following an 8-12 week treatment regimen of daily silicone application, collagen production will normalize and scar tissue will regain hydration and elasticity. This helps to flatten and reduce discoloration, allowing scars to blend in with the surrounding tissue.