bruising after knee replacement surgery

Bruising After Knee Replacement Surgery (Location and Management)

Bruising after total knee replacement surgery is normal. I experienced mild bruising and you may experience mild or extensive bruising. Bruising will be slightly different for each individual.

After TKR there are multiple areas that have the potential to bruise. There could be bruising on the thigh, around the knee, down the shin, and even as far as your toes.

The bruising will eventually clear up and it may take several weeks to disappear.

Bruises evolve as they heal. They may turn different colors in the process. It is important to remember that these bruises have nothing to do with deep vein thrombosis or blood clots (which are important things to be aware of).

Don’t worry, bruising is part of the healing process and they are rarely permanent. Below, I’ll share a few tips to help reduce bruising after knee replacement.

How Long Does Bruising Last After Knee Replacement Surgery?

Typically, bruising around your surgically repaired knee will last 1 to 2 weeks. Bruising often appears as a purplish discoloration that indicates there is blood in the area (bruising can also appear blue, brown, yellow).

It’s common and normal to develop bruises in your thigh, calf, ankle and foot because that is where blood pools in the leg.

The blood will track along the tissue planes of your leg resulting in bruising (photos of my knee after surgery).

In many cases patients are hooked up to compression machines right after surgery that stimulate the circulation of blood through the leg. This helps push blood in and out of the leg and may reduce the amount of bruising.

My Bruising After Surgery

After surgery, I was surprised by the pain and bruising in my thigh and around my incision.  It doesn’t look great in the days after surgery however the body is resilient and it heals quickly.

Why did I experience bruising in my thigh if the surgery was on my knee?

After surgery, I was promptly reminded by my care team that I had a tourniquet on my thigh during surgery. Tourniquets are applied to the upper thigh and are extremely tight. Their purpose is to cut off circulation, which reduces the amount of lost blood during surgery. It also allows a surgeon to work more effectively.

I was told by my medical team that the pain and bruising in the thigh area is normal.

I also experienced bruising around my incision, which I expected.

I did not have any bruising below my knee. However, I have seen several pictures on the internet of folks who had extensive bruising on their calf, ankle, and their foot.

Don’t be surprised to find bruising in areas other than your knee!

Should You Be Concerned About Bruising After Knee Surgery?

There are many things for you to be concerned about besides bruising after TKR surgery. Above and beyond bruising, I’d pay close attention to the following:

  • Pain management
  • Cleanliness (infection)
  • Scar management
  • Range of motion (mobility)
  • Reducing swelling

Pain management and beginning your physical therapy (mobility) should be at the top of your list.

The pain from my tourniquet took a few days to go away. The bruising eventually went away after 10 to 14 days.

Managing swelling could really help to reduce the appearance of bruising. In the early days after knee replacement surgery, I iced my knee to reduce swelling. I also elevated my leg to reduce the pooling of fluid in my leg (check out my article on ice packs for knee replacement).

Movement, although uncomfortable in the first few days after surgery, is a good way to increase circulation in your body and can help reduce bruising.

No matter what, your knee replacement surgery will result in at least some bruising. Depending on the individual, there may even be extensive bruising.

Understand that although bruising is unsightly, it is part of the healing process.

Conclusion

Knee replacement surgery causes severe trauma to your body. It is normal to expect bruising.

If you’re concerned or have questions, talk with your medical team or surgeon.

Bruises usually go away without much work on your part. They are a normal part of the healing process. You can expedite the process by staying active, and reducing swelling in the leg (by icing and elevation).

It may be unsightly but bruising isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm.

Instead, concentrate on managing your pain level so that you can fully concentrate on you rehabilitation and physical therapy. Manage swelling and be proactive to ensure your new knee doesn’t become infected.

Good management after surgery will help reduce bruising!

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