How long does knee replacement surgery take?

Being told that you need knee replacement surgery can be a troubling experience. You’ll likely want to research and gather all the information you can to prepare for the upcoming operation. We’ve put together a guide with all the information you’ll need to know about how long knee replacement surgery takes.

Knee replacement surgery patient being helped out of a hospital bed

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How long is knee replacement surgery?

The surgery itself depends on the type of knee operation. A total knee replacement, for example, will likely take between 2-3 hours. Whereas a partial knee replacement normally takes around an hour. Most knee surgeries take between 1-3 hours.

How long does partial knee replacement surgery take?

Partial knee replacement normally takes between 45 minutes and an hour.

How long does anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery take?

ACL reconstruction surgery lasts between one and one and a half hours. You may need to stay in hospital for one night but in some cases it can be carried out as a day case.

How long does knee revision surgery take?

Most revision total knee replacements take longer to perform than primary procedures – roughly two to three hours.

How long does knee arthroscopy (keyhole knee surgery) take?

Arthroscopic knee surgery is a minor surgical procedure and typically takes between 30 and 45 minutes to complete.

Knee surgery recovery times

Recovery depends on the type of knee surgery you’ve had and how old you are. If you’ve had surgery on a torn meniscus, for example, the recovery time is usually between 2-3 weeks. A partial knee replacement will usually take between 3-6 weeks to recover from. A total knee replacement will take around 6 weeks.

At Practice Plus Group, we follow the Enhanced Recovery Pathway (ERP). This is a modern, evidence-based approach that helps people speed up their recovery following major surgery. The ERP champions the many advantages of day surgery knee replacement. With this support you will be mobile enough to go home either on the day of surgery, or soon after.
Painkillers in the form of anti-inflammatories are administered upon discharge from hospital. This is to help with pain relief and to manage pain and swelling.

Knee arthroscopy recovery time

An advantage of knee arthroscopy is the minimal invasive day surgery. This means there’s a shorter recovery time and reduced risk of complications. The recovery time is typically around 6 weeks.

Knee revision surgery recovery time

It may take up to 12 months to fully recover from knee revision surgery. Most people will feel comfortable going back to work and resuming some of their normal activities three to six months after the surgery.

Knee anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery recovery time

It usually takes about six months to a year to make a full recovery from ACL reconstruction alongside physio therapy. 

Time off work after knee arthroscopy

The time you’ll need to take off work will depend on the type of job you have. For instance, if you work in an office, it’s likely you’ll be able to return after a week or two. However, if your work requires a commute, you’ll still need to factor this in. Air travel should be avoided for around a week after surgery. Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or surgeon for more information about returning to work.

Pain in your knee?

If you’re experiencing knee pain, try out knee suitability quiz. It will give you an idea of whether you’d benefit from booking a consultation with one of our knee specialists.

How long after knee arthroscopy can I drive?

You won’t be able to drive again until you can fully bend yoldoxsur knee enough to get in and out of the car, and control it properly. This will typically be around 6 to 8 weeks after your surgery. Ask your surgeon or doctor for more information.

What is the best time of year to have a knee replacement?

The answer to this question takes into account various different perspectives. For example, with regards to the weather, the best time of year for knee replacement surgery is either Spring or Autumn. This is because in the Summer, you’re more likely to have the heat to contend with, which could make keeping cool an issue. Likewise, surgery in the Winter means any recovery exercises outdoors could be undertaken in snowy or icy conditions.

Other factors to consider are:

  • when you’re likely to get the time off work (if you work)
  • whether your friends and family can also have time off to support your recovery
  • when your orthopaedic surgeon can accommodate you.

What is the best age to have a knee replacement?

Although available to most age groups, knee replacement surgery doesn’t tend to be recommended to younger patients below the age of 50. This however, depends on the severity of the damage, the amount of knee pain the patient is experiencing, and their overall quality of life. The typical age of a hip or knee replacement patient is between 50-80.

Knee replacement waiting times

According to a report from the Royal College of Surgeons in England, the number of patients on the NHS waiting list reached six million in 2022. Of these, over 18,500 had been waiting for more than two years for their surgery. Patients facing the longest waiting times are for Trauma and Orthopaedic treatment, such as hip and knee replacements.

The NHS has a Waiting List Tracker that allows patients to check current waiting list times in their area. It also allows them to filter by treatment, average waiting times, highest waiting times, and much more. The tool is also capable of providing national-level statistics.

In contrast to the NHS, the average waiting time for private patients is between four and six weeks. You can read more about waiting times in our new knee surgery waiting times blog.

Can you replace both knees at the same time?

The short answer is: yes. Total knee replacement surgery for both knees (sometimes called a bilateral procedure) can be performed. However, this treatment option comes with factors to consider. For instance, to qualify for the surgery, you’ll need to be healthy and at the younger end of the typical age range for knee surgery.

You will also need to think about the recovery process. With both knees operated on, the initial recovery period will become much more of a challenge. A bilateral procedure leaves you without a ‘good’ leg to support you. On the other hand, single knee replacement patients would typically be walking with minimal aid within a few days.

On the other hand, having both knees operated on at the same time means you would only have one recovery period to negotiate. This option is better for patients who might struggle to take a lot of time off work.

How long does a knee replacement last?

In the majority of patients (between 85% and 90%), a knee replacement will last about 15 to 20 years. Patients that had the procedure at a younger age may require a second operation to clean the bone surfaces and reset the implant.

There are certain activities you’ll need to avoid after a knee replacement. These are activities that carry a high risk of falling. Sports such as rugby, football and skiing should be avoided as these could cause damage to the new implant. Activities involving a lot of running and jumping should also be avoided, as well as sitting for prolonged periods of time.

Swimming, golf, walking and cycling after a knee replacement are all excellent options to explore to keep fit.

What is the longest-lasting knee replacement?

Longevity is one of the most important factors to consider if you need a knee replacement. The implant itself can be made from a range of different materials, which in turn can be combined to great effect. Each implant material has pros and cons, and some are more likely to last longer than others. The majority of knee replacements last between 10-15 years, with occasional cases lasting for much longer.