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Should You Have Both Knees Replaced at the Same Time?

Each year in the United States, orthopedic surgeons perform more than 600,000 knee replacement surgeries. The reason for these high numbers is that knee replacement surgery is an effective weapon in the war to regain pain-free mobility, and millions now have a new spring in their steps thanks to “new” knees.

At Manhattan Orthopedics, team member Dr. Craig H. Dushey specializes in knee replacement surgery, helping our patients lead more active lives. If you’ve decided that knee replacement for both of your knees would be the best avenue to freedom of movement, your next decision is whether to have the replacements done at the same time or separately.

As with anything, there are pros and cons to having both of your knee joints replaced at the same time, and we explore them here.

Longer surgery

When you get two new knees at the same time, which is called simultaneous bilateral knee replacement, the first thing to understand is that you undergo a longer surgery. This means that you’re under general anesthesia for longer, and there’s more chance for blood loss.

If you have a cardiovascular or respiratory condition that has the potential to create problems during your surgery, the better course of action is to do one knee replacement at a time.

If, however, you’re hale and hearty, this extended surgery shouldn’t present any problems.

Shorter, but more intensive rehab

When you undergo any joint replacement surgery, you need to count on a fair amount of rehabilitation work so that your body can adjust to the new joint, which is especially true of knee replacement. If you have Dr. Dushey replace both knees simultaneously, your rehab will be more intense as you essentially need to double down on your efforts.

That said, you only need to undergo one round of rehabilitation with double knee replacement as opposed to two rounds spaced apart by several months or a year if you stagger your knee replacements.

Your personal support 

One of the things we take a hard look at it before we recommend any joint replacement surgery is whether you have a good support system on the home front. If you have friends and family that can pick up some of the slack while you recover, we feel better about performing the surgery. If you want to replace both knees at once, this factor is extremely important, especially during your early recovery when your mobility is very limited.

Your physical support

Another thing to consider if you’re debating whether to have bilateral knee replacement is how strong your supporting tissues are. If you’re active, that’s great news because it means that the ligaments, tendons, and muscles surrounding your knee joints are probably in great shape. This is important because you rely on these connective tissues more heavily after your surgery.

If, however, your supporting tissues aren’t terribly strong, we may first recommend that you do some strengthening before we consider a bilateral replacement.

The choice is yours

Aside from a medical issue that may prevent you from being considered for bilateral knee replacement, the choice is ultimately yours to make. There are pros and cons to this sort of surgery, but if you’d prefer to get it all done in one fell swoop and feel that you have the right support in place, then this procedure may be right for you.

If you have any questions about your unique situation and whether simultaneous bilateral knee replacement is right for you, please don’t hesitate to call one of our two New York City offices in Midtown Manhattan or Astoria. Or you can request an appointment using our online scheduling tool.

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