The Pros & Cons of Bilateral Knee Replacement

Dr. Michael Bates, MD

Dr. Michael Bates, MD
Dr. Michael Bates, MD

When arthritis or other damage to the knee joint becomes severe, patients may consider knee replacement surgery. A bilateral knee replacement is when both knees are replaced during the same surgical procedure.

Dr. Michael Bates, MD, explains which patients are strong candidates for a bilateral knee replacement and the challenges during and after surgery. Dr. Bates specializes in adult reconstruction, total knee replacements, partial knee replacements and posterior & anterior hip replacements.


The most common reasons a patient requests a bilateral surgery are:

  • Only one (albeit more difficult) recovery period
  • Less time off from work because of the one healing period

However, not everyone is a candidate for bilateral knee replacement. Choosing the correct patient is critical to the surgery’s success, and I typically offer this procedure selectively. 

Candidates for Surgery

I consider this surgery for patients who are highly self-motivated, have a strong social support system of family or friends and, most importantly, are physically healthy – at a healthy weight, with no heart disease and no or very well-controlled diabetes.


Bilateral knee replacement surgery does come with the elevated risks associated with a longer surgical procedure as well as a more challenging recovery.

Surgical RISKS

As a bilateral knee replacement keeps a patient in surgery roughly twice as long, I make sure they understand the risks of infection, blood clots and blood loss that accompany any major surgical procedure. While the elevated risk is still relatively small, it is something I take into consideration to help counsel my patients on their decision.

rEHABILITATION cOMPLICATIONS

Rehabilitating two total knee replacements simultaneously is a tougher recovery and is important to consider and discuss with your surgeon. 

Preparation allows many people to successfully navigate this recovery. The first couple of weeks tend to be the most challenging. Having a reliable support system to help with daily activities like caretaking and transportation is hugely important to a patient's safety and successful recovery.


Dr. Michael Bates, MD, is a fellowship-trained hip and knee surgeon with OrthoCarolina University.

To make an appointment with Dr. Bates, schedule online or call us at 704.323.2100

Comments

March 06, 2022

I had bilateral knee replacement and if you need both knees replaced go bilateral, one recovery and it’s 2022 the recovery period is easier and faster . In my opinion go for both and live a happy life sooner and easier.
- Jim
Reply From: OrthoCarolina

March 09, 2022

Thank you for your note, Jim. We are glad to hear it went well for you!

March 04, 2022

Is it possible to do a total hip and total knee together if both joints are severely affected? Will a person be going into a rehabilitation facility for any period of time following surgeriy of any type? What is the typical recovery time on one total hip or knee surgery. If the two could be done together on one side, how would this affect the rehabilitation time? Thank-you very much for any help, or information you can give me. Thanks
- Elizabeth Ollis
Reply From: OrthoCarolina

March 09, 2022

Hi Elizabeth, thank you for your note and your questions. We recommend you discuss your surgery options with your surgeon to see what is possible and so they can provide personalized post-op rehab timelines and expectations for you.