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How do you shower after knee replacement?

After having a total knee replacement, being able to shower properly is an important part of recovery. Showering keeps the incision clean and prevents infection. However, there are special considerations to keep in mind when showering after knee replacement surgery. Here is a guide on how to shower after knee replacement surgery.

When can you shower after knee replacement?

Most surgeons allow patients to shower 48-72 hours after surgery, once the drain has been removed and the incision has started healing. However, always follow your surgeon’s specific instructions on when it is safe to shower after knee replacement surgery. Showering too soon can lead to complications.

How long after knee replacement can you get incision wet?

Once the incision has had 48-72 hours to start healing and your surgeon gives the go-ahead, you can get the knee replacement incision wet in the shower. The incision is sealed with internal sutures and surgical glue, so water will not penetrate into the wound at this stage. Avoid soaking the incision for prolonged periods until it is completely healed.

Can you cover knee incision when showering?

Yes, you can cover the knee incision with plastic wrap or other waterproof dressing when showering after knee replacement surgery. This protects the incision site from prolonged exposure to water. However, many surgeons say covering is not necessary if the incision is healing properly and at least 48-72 hours old.

How to keep knee dry when showering after surgery?

Here are some tips for keeping the knee dry when showering after knee replacement:

– Wrap the knee incision in plastic wrap or waterproof bandages. Secure it with tape.
– Wear a knee brace over the dressings while showering.
– Face away from the shower spray to limit water exposure on the incision.
– Use a detachable shower head to direct water flow away from the affected knee.
– Sit on a shower chair or plastic stool and keep the knee out of the direct water stream.
– Consider taking sponge baths initially until the incision is more healed.

How long to keep knee dressing dry and covered?

It is recommended to keep the knee dressing dry and covered for at least 48-72 hours after surgery. This allows the incision time to begin healing before getting wet. After this period, and with your surgeon’s approval, you can get the knee incision wet in the shower. Continue using waterproof dressings for at least 2 weeks after surgery until the incision fully closes.

What to do if knee dressing gets wet?

If the knee dressing gets wet prematurely before the incision has had time to heal, do not panic. Gently pat it dry with a clean towel. Avoid rubbing. You can apply a new dry dressing. Notify your surgeon if you notice increased drainage, redness, pain or other signs of infection. Getting the knee dressing accidentally wet early on does not always lead to complications. But it is best to keep it dry initially.

How to keep the rest of the leg dry when showering?

To keep the rest of your leg and dressings dry while showering after knee replacement:

– Cover the leg with plastic wrap or a large plastic bag secured with tape at the top.
– Wear waterproof clothing or a knee-high waterproof boot over the dressings.
– Keep your leg outside the shower stream and curtain.
– Detach the shower head and use a hand-held sprayer to carefully direct water flow.
– Sit on a shower chair or plastic stool so the leg is elevated above the tub floor.
– Have someone assist you with washing the leg externally using a damp washcloth.
– Use a large plastic bag around your foot so you can wash your other leg.

How to wash knee with staples?

If your knee incision is closed with staples rather than stitches, take extra care when showering:

– Do not submerge or soak the knee.
– Let soap and water run over the staples but do not scrub.
– Gently pat the staples dry after showering.
– Cover staples with plastic wrap secured with tape if they are not ready to get wet yet according to your surgeon.
– Watch for signs of infection like redness, swelling, oozing and increased pain at the staple site.
– Notify your surgeon if any staples come out.

Can I take a bath after knee replacement?

Most surgeons recommend avoiding taking baths after knee replacement surgery until the incision is completely healed. Bathing soaks the knee incision in water for a prolonged period, increasing infection risk. Wait at least 2-3 weeks before taking a bath after a knee replacement. Check with your surgeon for their specific recommendations.

When can I submerge knee in water after replacement?

It is generally recommended to avoid fully submerging the knee in water until 2-3 weeks after surgery at the earliest. The incision needs time to fully close and seal. After this period, and with your surgeon’s approval, you may be able to fully submerge the knee in a bath or pool. But continue avoiding soaking and prolonged water exposure for at least 6-8 weeks post-op.

How to keep knee dry in the shower?

Here are 8 tips for keeping your knee dry when showering after knee replacement surgery:

Tip Method
Cover with plastic wrap Wrap knee incision in plastic wrap and tape
Use waterproof dressing Apply special waterproof bandage over incision
Wear knee brace Secure knee brace over dressings while showering
Face away from water Stand sideways so water doesn’t directly hit knee
Use detachable shower head Carefully aim water flow away from knee
Sit on shower chair Elevate knee and keep it out of main water stream
Use plastic bag on foot Cover foot in bag so you can still wash other leg
Have someone assist Have someone wash knee with damp washcloth

How to shower with knee immobilizer brace?

Many patients have to wear a knee immobilizer brace after knee replacement surgery to stabilize the joint. Here are tips for showering with a knee immobilizer brace:

– Remove the brace just before showering if approved by your surgeon.
– Cover the knee incision with plastic wrap under the brace if it cannot get wet yet.
– Wear a waterproof brace cover to keep the brace padding dry.
– Wrap a plastic bag around the foot portion of the brace and secure it with tape.
– Use a detachable shower head to carefully direct water flow away from the brace.
– Face away from the main shower stream.
– Have someone assist with washing the legs and feet.
– Pat the brace dry with a towel after showering being careful not to damage the brace.

When can I shower without covering my knee?

Once your knee replacement incision has had 2-3 weeks to fully seal and close, and your surgeon approves, you can begin showering without covering or protecting your knee. The water will no longer penetrate into the healed incision site. Continue to avoid direct spray on the knee and do not soak in a bath until at least 6 weeks post-op or as your surgeon advises. Monitor for signs of infection after showering.

What precautions should you take when showering after knee replacement?

The following precautions should be taken when showering after knee replacement surgery:

– Do not shower until your surgeon says it is safe, usually 48-72 hours after surgery.
– Keep dressings dry and covered for at least 2 weeks.
– Use waterproof coverings like plastic wrap or special dressings over the incision.
– Avoid direct shower spray hitting the healing knee.
– Limit shower time to 5-10 minutes.
– Do not take baths until the incision is fully closed, around 2-3 weeks.
– Use grab bars and shower chairs for stability and fall prevention.
– Wash gently using lukewarm water and mild soap.
– Rinse incision well to prevent skin irritation.
– Pat incision dry after showering.
– Watch for signs of infection like increased swelling, redness, oozing.
– Do not soak the knee or submerge it until 6-8 weeks post-op.

What to do if my knee incision opens up?

If the knee incision opens up after knee replacement surgery, follow these steps:

1. Stop showering immediately and keep the area dry.
2. Apply clean gauze or dressing over the opened incision.
3. Notify your surgeon about the opened incision.
4. See your surgeon right away to have the incision evaluated.
5. Your surgeon will clean out the incision, close it up with stitches or staples, and prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.
6. Restart showering only after the incision is fully closed again and your surgeon gives approval.
7. Monitor the incision carefully for any signs of infection like redness, swelling, oozing, increased pain or fever.


Showering after total knee replacement surgery is an important part of the recovery process. With proper precautions, techniques and timing, patients can successfully keep their new knee dry and clean while promoting healing of the surgical incision. Be sure to get specific advice from your orthopedic surgeon and follow their guidelines closely for optimal results after a knee replacement procedure. Monitor the knee incision site carefully and contact your doctor immediately about any concerns with drainage, pain, redness or opening of the wound. With your doctor’s guidance, most patients can resume gentle showering within the first 1-2 weeks after knee replacement surgery.