what to wear after knee replacement surgery

What To Wear After Knee Replacement Surgery (My Tips)

Are you wondering what to wear after knee replacement surgery? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

Wearing the right clothes will be important during surgery and during your recovery. It was for me! Of course, I made some mistakes and forgot a few personal items that I should have taken to the hospital.

In this article I’ll discuss what to wear to the hospital and how to plan your wardrobe when you return home.

I’ll highlight:

  • Comfortable sweater or shirt
  • Comfortable shorts you can do exercises in
  • Warm socks with good grips on the bottom

Although the surgery will be short-lived, the recovery will take a few months. I’ll share how I made myself more comfortable by wearing the right clothes.

What I Wore To The Hospital For TKR

All week my family was helping me prepare for the big day. The house was in order and we had rearranged the couches, chairs, and beds.

We cleaned the house so I could come back to an orderly home and I had gone grocery shopping to grab some snacks for the hospital.

One thing I didn’t consider was what I should wear. Thankfully my doctor had a helpful checklist to remind me. I grabbed a loose fitting pair of sweats and a thin long-sleeve shirt.

It’s always cool in hospitals so I wanted to overdress – I could always remove layers.

I chose cotton fabrics that would be comfortable while moving around or lying in bed. I also brought a pair of athletic shorts that I could wear after surgery that #1 wouldn’t get in the way of my wound and #2 wouldn’t matter if blood or fluid seeped onto them.

Other than the clothes I wore, I brought one more set of clothes just in case I had to stay in the hospital more than 1-2 days. I wore a pair of comfortable tennis shoes but also packed a pair of sandals in case I needed them around the hospital.

It turned out that I didn’t need the sandals, just socks with sole grips. As TKR surgery has evolved, the time in the hospital has decreased and patients like me can return home fairly quickly.

I was in and out within 2 days.

Once I returned home, I had my clothes laid out for the week. I knew I wouldn’t be in the mood to visit the closet and choose clothes, so I planned in advance.

I usually wore shorts and a sweatshirt to keep my upper body warm. I wore shorts because it was easier with compression, icing, and managing the wound.

I learned from my doctor that shorts would help with air circulation and healing while my wound healed.  In addition to good clothes don’t forget these must-have items after TKR.

To be clear, the clothes I wore were common sense. They were comfortable, soft, and not expensive (in case they get damaged or blood oozed on them).

What To Bring To Hospital For Knee Replacement Surgery

In this section, I want to share my checklist for what to bring to the hospital. It’s fairly straightforward and you don’t need much. I added a few items based on my experience – things I forgot that would have been nice.

  • Toiletries
    • Toothbrush
    • Toothpaste
    • Medications
    • Comb
    • Favorite soap/shampoo
    • Lotion
    • Razor (probably not needed)
    • Vitamins/Supplements
    • Wipes (for cleaning without bathing)
    • Glasses (no contacts) and packets of glasses wipes
  • 2 pairs of clothes (1 pair you’re wearing)
    • Sweats
    • Sweatshirt
    • Athletic shorts
    • 2 pairs of socks
    • 2 tee shirts
    • 2 underwear
    • Tennis shoes and sandals
  • Eye cover for sleeping during the day (if needed)
  • Neck support (if needed)
  • Walker, Cane, or Walking Poles
  • Books and magazines
  • Laptop/Ipad/Smartphone if you want to check emails or watch movies
  • Favorite blanket
  • Healthy Snacks and Gatorade

Clothing To Wear After Knee Replacement Surgery

must have items after knee replacement surgeryDirectly after surgery, you’ll likely be wearing the gown the hospital provides. It’s easier to clean and it’s loose enough that you won’t be bothered.

Your legs will be wrapped for compression so they will be covered even though you aren’t wearing pants.

Depending on your doctor and the success of the procedure you might only be in the hospital 1 day but it’s not uncommon to be in the hospital for 3 days post surgery.

During this time you won’t be very mobile so you don’t have to worry about changing clothes or shaving.

Wipes are great because you can clean yourself without having to get up and bathe. Wear the gown for as long as you can and it will save you doing laundry at home.

While I was at the hospital, my sweatshirt was handy to keep my upper body warm.

Here’s a list of clothes to wear after your return home from TKR surgery:

  • Comfortable pants that make it easy to use the bathroom (see option below)
  • Compression socks
  • Tee shirt and sweatshirt, and athletic shorts
  • Warm socks with sole grips (wool are best)
  • Soft tennis shoes or slip ons (check out my article on the best shoes after TKR)

If it’s winter season, set your thermostat a bit higher so you can wear shorts inside without getting cold. Keep a blanket on your favorite chair so you can easily cover your legs if needed.

Preparing Clothes For The Week After TKR Surgery

One of my previous articles suggests how to prepare your house for post surgery. In that article, I discuss the benefits of planning your outfit for a week after you return home. Why, you ask?

When you return home from surgery, you won’t feel like doing much. If your experience is like mine, you’ll be groggy and in some pain.

You’ll be on a lot of medication and the last thing you’ll want is to walk to the closet and figure out what to wear.

My advice is: before you go to the hospital for surgery, organize clean clothes for a week and keep them by the bed. You won’t have to think about what to wear.

Instead, you’ll have clean clothes ready-to-go.

Make it easier on yourself. The same goes for medication and vitamins and supplements (you can read about the best supplements I used after knee replacement).

Comfortable Post-Surgery Clothes After Knee Replacement Surgery

Below are a few of my favorites. Some clothes I mention are part of my everyday wardrobe and I’ll use them long after recovery.

Other items I’ll keep in case I have health issues in the future.

Post Surgery Clothing (Side Zippers and Buttons)

There are pants available made for post-surgery recovery.  These options use zippers or buttons on the side of the pants and are much easier to put on and take off than regular pants.

A few of the benefits of side zippers or buttons are:

  • Can put pants on while sitting down
  • Makes wound cleaning easier
  • Loose fitting for comfort and exercise
  • Makes icing easier
  • Allows you to clean the body without removing all clothes
  • Much easier to use the bathroom

There are two types of post-surgery pants I’d recommend.

#1 Unisex Side-Button Pants

The fist is a unisex pair of blue pants.  They have buttons on both sides of the pants that can be opened for cleaning, ventilation, and comfort.

They are made from polyester (check unisex side button pants on Amazon).

Although they aren’t the most stylish pair of pants, they are practical and will be helpful during the first few weeks of recovery.

#2 Reboundwear Side-Zipper Pants

If you prefer pants that are more stylish, the Reboundwear side-zipper pants look like normal pants but have zippers on the outside of each leg (check Reboundwear side zipper pants on Amazon).

The pants are black and they could be worn as exercise pants too.  I think they look good, however, they are a little more expensive than the button up recovery pants I mentioned above.

Take a look at both to see which option works best for you.

Compression Socks

Compression socks are extremely important after knee replacement and something you should wear consistently throughout the first few months of recovery (my opinion).
Compression socks are extra long and somewhat tight.  They help prevent swelling and reduce the chance of blood clots.

You might taking blood thinner medicine but it’s always good to be extra careful.  My doctor recommended I always wear them when flying.

I like these Physics Gear stylish compression socks on Amazon.  They come in a variety of colors for men and women and have excellent reviews.

If you venture out of the house you can still wear them under your pants. They have an added benefit of keeping your legs warm if you’re wearing shorts!

Patagonia Men’s Sweater

This might be too nice for post-surgery but it’s sure comfortable. Patagonia is an environmentally friendly company out of Ventura, California.

This sweater uses a 100% polyester knitted fleece pullover that is washable. Patagonia is one of my favorite outdoor brands because of the quality and the company’s mission.

>>check out Patagonia’s sweaters on Amazon

The give back to the environment and they use soft, durable fabric.

Nike Shorts

Don’t be confused by the “layup” name. They aren’t just for basketball. Nike shorts are lightweight and soft – perfect for wearing post-surgery.

I wear these multiple times a week for walking, hiking, and pickleball.

>>check Nike shorts price and reviews on Amazon

They are great for wearing during physical therapy after TKR and will keep you looking stylish. Nike shorts have an elastic waistband, a drawcord, pockets, and breathable fabric.

Merino Wool Socks with Rubber Grip

These marino wool socks (pictured) with bottom grips are a solid brand that makes quality socks. Because I was always wearing shorts after knee surgery, I wanted socks that would keep my toes warm.

Thick wool socks did the trick and gave me a little extra cushion.  Just as important was the grip on the bottom so I wouldn’t slide on the floor.

These socks are mostly wool but use some other materials (dacron and acrylic) to keep elasticity against your foot. For a decent price you get 2 pairs – not bad.

There are many options out there for clothing after TKR. You could even visit the thrift store to find good quality clothes perfect for your recovery – and you can get rid of them once you’ve healed.

You won’t want 2nd hand socks though.

The items I mentioned above will stay with me for many years, long after I’m healed.

>>check wool socks with grip reviews on Amazon

Whatever you choose, just make sure to do your homework and find comfortable clothes that are perfect for your style and individual needs.

Conclusion

It’s a common question to ask “what to wear after knee replacement surgery?”

I had the same question when I was going to the hospital and when I returned home. Thankfully my doctor had a checklist and I did some homework on the computer.

In this article, we covered the basics of what to wear and I shared my personal experience with clothes and surgery. When going to the hospital for surgery, you should have a checklist of essential items.

This includes toiletries, clothes, phone/laptops, shoes, and snacks. A hospital can be a dry, cool, uncomfortable place so bring a few items that will make you feel at home – even a blanket if needed.

While at the hospital you’ll likely be wearing the gown they provide. But as you prepare to go home you’ll want warm comfortable clothing.

Sweatshirts and loose fitting shorts are great and warm socks for your feet will help keep your legs warm (I set the thermostat higher too). Athletic shorts offer access to the knee for icing and compression.

The shorts also allow you to tend to your wound more easily.

I mentioned a few of my favorite brands and products, but don’t be limited by my opinion. Depending on your preferences find clothes that will suit you and make you happy as you recover from TKR surgery.

Once again, thanks for reading. I created this site to provide insight for others that are going through knee replacement surgery.

It’s a big decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I have a lot of articles that discuss all the questions and experience that goes into preparing for surgery and recovering from it. Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Hey Ken, Thank you for all your advise as it has been very helpful in getting me prepared for this surgery ! Hope you are doing well by now !

    1. Author

      Thanks for stopping by and thank for the comment. Yes, I’m doing well and doing all the things I did before, however, with no pain now. It was a good decision for me but a lot of hard work too. Good luck!

    2. Hi,

      Great list.

      One thing I didn’t see was basket of items for your bedside. Lotions, lip balms, hand sanitizer, tissues (I cried a lot first few nights) and other items you may find handy.

      I also would recommend if you don’t have a higher toilet, invest in a a raised medical seat. I didn’t think I would need that. I was very wrong.

  2. Thank you Ken for all your helpful information on TKR. I had TKR on my right knee on January 8, it has been quite difficult. Sleeping, exercises, and keeping ahead of the pain, consumes most of my days. I am getting better very slowly and become very frustrated on my progress, wishing I would feel better faster! I’m sure I will feel better in time and my energy will return.

    1. Author

      Thank you for the comment. I found the real improvement came in the first 8 weeks and, yes, my first month was tough too (therapy, sleeping, general pain). It’s easy to get frustrated. Early on I wondered if I made the wrong decision to have surgery but now, after the tough months and hard work I’m so glad I did. Keep a long-term outlook on your improvements and stay moving! Hope you find greater 2nd-month improvements!

  3. Thank you for all this info. I’m a single RN and doing the knee replacement on my own. It helps so much so I can plan ahead. I know all the little tricks for shoulder and back surgeries but have never had a knee joint replaced. I will be in patient 2-3 days then will be transferred to the hospitals Rehab for 5-6 days then home. Should be interesting. Lol

    1. Author

      If you’re an RN you’ll probably be well prepared going into surgery. Checking in and out of the hospital was so much smoother than I expected – I wasn’t even there very long. The recovery was challenging but hard work will have you working in no time. Wish you the best and glad my experience could help!

  4. I broke my tiba plautaeu and right ankle on March 1st and had surgery March 21 while I’m recovering I’m finding the easiest thing to wear is dresses.

    1. Author

      Good point. Loose dresses would be a great option for warmer weather. Hope you’re feeling better!

  5. Thank you for writing this article/blog. I had TKR 2 weeks ago. My in home PT told me I am doing great, but it didn’t seem like it to me. Then, I read your article & feel much better about my progress. It was good to read the discomfort I’m dealing with is normal. This article has really helped my mental state.

  6. I had my second knee replacement 5 weeks ago – my other knee was done last July. Although the experience has been very different in terms of what needs the most work (extension or flexion), both times the issue of what to wear was important. You are absolutely right that having the right clothes, easily accessible is crucial. Last summer I wore dresses because it was very hot. This year, even though it is June now, not too warm here. Luckily I picked up some very soft black pyjama pants at Target. I knew I didn’t like anything touching my incision, and what’s great about these pants is that I can push the pant leg up above my knee and it will stay there, while my other leg stays warm.
    It is very easy to get discouraged even if your progress is good. Also, you can start to feel very isolated, no matter how much support you have.
    All I can say is that the knee I had done last year is fantastic! I worked very hard at physio, doing nothing for 2 months but exercise and ice! But it was well worth it. Although it is not a “normal” knee, it is a better knee than I had for the last 20 years.

    1. Author

      I understand, even though I only had one done! Good insight and thanks for the comment!

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