One very popular myth about showering after knee replacement surgery is the belief that you need to avoid taking a bath for the short-term after replacement surgery. For decades, patients who underwent knee replacement surgery were under the impression that they could not submerge the healing area for at least 14 days or at least until after the skin staples were removed to avoid accidental loss of sutures.

For most patients, this “rule” was unpleasant. The majority of patients want to go home, bathe and get rid of all the tape marks, and feel clean. Well, now a study shows that this time-honored advice is unnecessary in most patients.

Research at Loyola School

Researchers at Loyola School of medicine recently conducted a study about showering after knee replacement surgery. This study was done by comparing the bacterial skin counts of patients who shower 48 hours after knee arthroplasty to patients who waited between 10-14 days.

Once researchers swabbed the skin near the incision of the patients who had just bathed. They analyzed microscopic skin cells to see if there was a difference in the bacterial count in the patients who had showered 48-hours after surgery versus the patients who delayed bathing for 10-14 days. Upon reviewing the data, they found there was no patient in either group developed any signs of infection and, therefore, that there was no reason to wait two-weeks before showering after knee replacement surgery.

Additionally, they found that most patients in the study who prefer to shower early than wait for 10-14 days. The majority of patients stated that if given the option, they would rather shower early than later.

Where did these ideas about showering after knee replacement surgery come from?

Orthopedic surgeons have a fear of wound infections and have various types of post-op wound care regimens but almost all recommend delayed showering. How and when this 2-week rule came about is not known. But there are no studies to support this regimen.

Every hip replacement surgery and knee replacement surgery is going to be different, therefore, it is best to speak with your orthopedic surgeon about their thoughts on showering post-surgery.