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How High Should A toilet Seat Be After Hip Surgery ?

I think I can say, that after my mom’s hip replacement, at age 88, Mom and I were both a bit anxious about all the things that could go wrong. The specter of the “hip dislocation” hung over us, or maybe more me, in a way which was completely disproportionate to the reality of the situation, and the physiotherapists struggled to make it clear that if you just followed the basic guidelines it should all go very well…..hopefully. We did, and it all went like a breeze….oof !

 

For a posterior or lateral hip replacement, the height of your toilet seat should be at least a little higher than the back of your knee to the floor, at the point that it bends. But not so high, that when you are sitting, your feet are dangling in the air. Your feet should be firmly planted on the floor when you are sitting on your toilet seat – especially after a hip replacement – otherwise this can lead to loss of balance when standing up.

For an anterior hip replacement, you do not have to worry about this rule, but you do not want to sit on a seat which is very low, as you may still strain yourself when trying to stand up.

 

 

If you would like to learn more about how to measure a toilet for a raised toilet seat, I have an article explaining the two measurements that you need to check –

  • the height of the seat you need
  • the size of your toilet – standard, or elongated

That article is here – “How To Measure For A Raised Toilet Seat”.

What is the right chair height after a hip surgery ?

 

The right height for a chair after hip surgery is exactly the same as for the height of the toilet seat – the seat of the chair should be no higher from the floor, than the point at which your knees bend, so that when you are seated your bottom is no lower than your knees.

 

 

If you wish to have the seat an inch or so higher, this presents no problems.

You should also make sure that the seat that you are using has a straight back, and that it has armrests.

You will use the armrests to help you maintain good posture when standing, so that you do not lean forwards, causing undue stress on your new hip.

 

Do you need a raised toilet seat after hip surgery ?

 

For patients who have had “posterior”, or “lateral” surgery, whose toilet seat level is lower than the point at which their knees bend, when they are seated on it, there is the need for a raised toilet seat after surgery.

The raised toilet seat is necessary after posterior, or lateral, hip replacement surgery, because the muscles around the hip at the back and side will have been cut to make it possible to fit the hip replacement, and will be weakened with very little tone, which can cause the joint to be less stable.

In some situations, for a number of weeks, because of this weakness and lack of tone, there can be a minor risk of dislocations.

Sitting down, and standing up, can put more stress on the hip if done incorrectly due to the angle of the hip in these actions, and this can lead to a dislocation.

You may have heard of the 90 Degree Rule which is one of a number of precautions that need to be taken by individuals who have had, either the “posterior”, or “lateral” hip replacement surgeries.

I have two articles which may be of use to you if you have had either of the two surgeries mentioned above –

“Do You Need A Raised Toilet Seat After Hip Surgery” in which I discuss the different precautions you need to take when seated, and “How To Sit On A Toilet After Hip Surgery: A Detailed Illustrated Guide”, which explains how to sit on a raised toilet seat, with or without armrests, using a walker, and which is fully illustrated.

 

Do you need a raised toilet seat after an anterior hip replacement ?


Patients who have had anterior hip replacement surgery, need only use a raised toilet seat if their toilet is really low.

Anterior hip replacement surgery is performed at the front of the hip, which does not require the cutting of any large muscles.

It necessitates some different precautions, but not as many because the muscles supporting the joint are more stable after surgery – at least when it comes to sitting and standing.

When can you use a regular toilet after hip surgery ?

 

Typically, for a rough guide, you will need a raised toilet seat for up to 6 to 10 weeks following your surgery, before you can start using a regular toilet seat again.

This does of course depend on your age, state of health, your type of surgery – with anterior hip replacements there is no need for a raised toilet seat if the toilet is of a normal height and the patient is not extremely tall – how well the surgery went and how you are progressing

Only your doctor will know the answer to this question, as each case is different, so they are the person to ask about this.

 

Toilet seats for hip replacement patients

 

So, for those patients who have had a posterior, or a lateral, hip replacement, you are very likely going to require some adjustment to your toilet seat height.

The toilet seat is going to need to be raised up a little in most cases, to change the angle of the hip joint while sitting, sitting down, or standing up.

To raise the level of a toilet seat, you will need a raised toilet seat of some type.

Raised toilet seats

If you are looking for a very detailed look at raised toilet seats, how they work, how they attach to the toilet, what each type offers which is different, and lots of different examples of models, and weight capacities, I have an article with all of that here – “Types Of Raised Toilet Seats: All You Should Know Before You Buy”.

Below is an abridged version, complete with illustrations of each types of raised toilet seat, and a short explanation about how they work, the support they offer, and to whom each one are best suited.

 

Raised toilet seats for a temporary situation

 

The two types of seat illustrated below are portable solutions for when you are outside your own home.

Neither of these two types of seat has armrests, so especially for older users you would want a grab bar on the wall, or a toilet safety frame as well – I really wouldn’t ask my elderly mom to use one of these unless there were no other choice.

Both types of seats have a tendency to wobble, as they have no bolts or clamps attaching them to the toilet, and when we tried some examples, my mom and I found them unsuitable for an elderly adult, and certainly not after a hip replacement – this is of course just my personal opinion, and others may feel they are stable enough.

Bubble seats

Clip-On seats

Raised toilet seats for medium term use

 

The three following seats, are somewhat more solidly secured to the toilet, by various plastic clamping systems, flanges and bolts, but they still are prone to moving around.

Some come with the choice of armrests, so if they are well fixed to your toilet they do offer somewhat more support – again though we have tried various models, and it was a bit like being at sea when using the type with side fixings. The flanges, which are at the back of the seat, fit under the inside rim of the bowl, and are there to stop the seat tipping forwards, but don’t do a lot about the seats moving from side to side.

Some models fit either an elongated, or a standard shaped toilet, and although a lot of the front locking toilets say they fit all toilet shapes, this is not always true – which is understandable, as there is variation in the shape of different toilets, as well as the two different basic shaped toilet bowls.

The Clipper seats, and the Front Locking types of seats, are those which can be bought with armrests, the seats with side fixings cannot.

These seats may be fine for younger users,  I don’t feel good about suggesting them for long-term use by an elderly adult.

Seats with side fixings

Clipper Seats

Front locking seats

 

The Raised toilet seats for long-term use

 

Below are, the seats have been designed far more solidly, and are well suited to use by an elderly person.

The “Tall Seats”, or seats with spacers, are securely bolted to the toilet and replace your existing toilet seat, which tales a bit of work – and as they have no armrests  you will of course will need either a grab bar on the wall, or safety frame on the toilet for a fragile elderly adult.

Toilet plinths, or base riser, may be a rather drastic choice, for just a brief period after a hip replacement, unless you are looking to raise the toilet permanently, and will of course still need a grab bar or a toilet safety frame for an elderly adult to hold on to.

Risers are also particularly solid, but do require a bit more work to install as they are also bolted to the toilet under your existing seat – this involves removing your toilet seat, placing the riser on the toilet bowl rim, and then reattaching your toilet seat to the toilet on top of the riser.

The only disadvantage with risers with armrests is that you cannot whisk them away when you have guests, they have to disassembled, and then the toilet seat reattached.

 

The last four types of raised toilet seat here are the most solid –

  • raised toilet seat with legs
  • safety frames with raised toilet seats
  • 3-in-1 bedside commodes
  • toilet plinth or base riser

 

Raised toilet seats with legs, safety frames with raised toilet seats, and 3-in-1 commodes all have four points on the ground, so cannot wobble, and as they are not attached to the toilet, cannot fall off it.

The safety frames with legs and bedside commodes are installed in less than a minute over a toilet, and can be removed from the toilet in seconds, if a guest turns up – you just lift them up and put them elsewhere, and the toilet is back to being used a regular toilet.

The raised toilet seats with legs take a minute or two longer to install and remove, as some have a clamp and a flange locking to the toilet.

For larger individuals requiring a weight capacity of 600 lb, or more, and more than 2 inches in extra height, there is only one option  –  a bariatric 3-in-1 style bedside commode.

For larger individuals who want a high weight capacity – over 600lb – and to add just 1 to 2 inches, Big John toilet seats are a very good choice.

As with Tall Seats, some risers and toilet plinths, you will need to install either a safety frame over the toilet as well, or put grab bars up on the wall, as Big John seats do not have armrests.

3-in-1 commodes come in a variety of seat widths, aperture sizes, with elongated seats and seat heights, making them in my opinion by far the most easily adaptable choice of raised toilet seat.

Tall seats

Risers

Raised toilet seats with legs

Safety frames with raised toilet seats

3-in-1 bedside commode

Toilet Plinth or Base

Best raised toilet seats after a hip replacement

I have an exhaustive article which has all the seats listed below, as well as the different specifications of the seats, how they help, what seats are best suited to what age and body type, and why I prefer those particular seats, here – “Best Raised Toilet Seats After A Hip Replacement”

Here is the list of what I think are the best models of raised toilet seats, dependent on the age and weight of the user –

 

Best raised toilet seat for the elderly after a hip replacement

 

1) OasisSpace Stand Alone Safety Frame and Raised Toilet Seat – with a hard seat

2) OasisSpace Stand Alone Safety Frame and Raised Toilet Seat – with a padded seat

3) PlatinumHealth Ultimate Raised Toilet Seat (safety frames with raised toilet seat)

4) Medline – basic 3-in-1 Bedside Commode

5) Nova Drop-Arm Padded Commode

6) PlatinumHealth GentleBoost Uplift 3-in-1 Commode and Shower Chair

 

Best raised toilet seat for larger elderly seniors (over 350 lb) –

 

1) Nova Heavy Duty Drop-Arm Commode 8583

2) Drive Deluxe Bariatric Drop-Arm Commode 11135-1

Best raised toilet seat after a hip replacement for a younger senior in good shape

 

Risers with armrests –

 

1) Nova 3.5″ raised toilet seat riser with arms  (standard), Model No. 8344-R

2) Nova 3.5″ raised toilet seat riser with arms  (elongated), Model No. 8343-R

3) Vive 3.5″ toilet seat riser with handles  (standard), Model No. LVA1071S

4) Vive 3.5″toilet seat riser with handles  (elongated), Model No. LVA1071E

Front locking raised toilet seat with armrests

 

1) Vive raised toilet seat with detachable handles, Model No. LVA10011

2) Drive Medical Premium plastic raised toilet seat with armrests, Model No. 12013

3) Nova raised toilet seat with detachable arms, Model No. 8351-R

Depending on how strong the user is, and how good their balance is, you may want to have a grab bar by the toilet as well, just in case the seat moves around.

 

Best raised toilet seats after a hip replacement, for larger, younger seniors (over 300 lb)

 

1) Nova Heavy Duty Drop-Arm Commode, Model No. 8583 – 500 lb weight capacity

2) Drive Deluxe Bariatric Drop-Arm Commode, Model No. LVA1071S – 1000 lb weight capacity

Helpful items for after a hip replacement

If you have had a posterior, or a lateral hip replacement, you will be restricted in how you can perform quite a few of your daily activities such as toileting, dressing and bathing.

There are a number of assistive devices, or aids, which if you have them, can make your life considerably easier.

General Aids –

 

– Reacher/ grabber / handi-grip / gripper – this is a basic lightweight, multipurpose, long handled, reaching aid  made to pick up items without reaching down and bending.

Non-slip PVC – this is a trick that I did for my mom, where she was standing up from her bed, as she found that her feet were sliding a little as the bed may be a touch too high.

I bought some non-slip PVC mat underlay, cut a piece about 24 inches by 28 inches, and then taped it down on  the floor with some heavy duty Gorilla Tape – I replace it once a year.

Mom can now get off the bed, and her feet have a good grip.

 

– a leg lifter – this a type of strap with which you can lift your leg on to, and off, your bed if you do not have someone to help you.

 

Walking Aids –

 

– A walker – you are going to need a walker at home, especially when using the toilet

Pouches for your walker – these can be very helpful, especially if you are using the walker for a longer period than expected, as you can pop small items in the pouches, that you can’t carry otherwise.

– Canes – after surgery to start walking again you will typically start with a walker, and after you can manage that, you will transition to two canes, or crutches, then one cane.

Toileting Aids –

 

– A raised toilet seat – as we have discussed.

– A bedside commode – Mom’s preferred choice for a raised toilet seat, and very useful if the bathroom is too far from your bedroom.

For the first week, as did my mom, you may wish to use a bedside commode instead of the toilet, especially at night in the bedroom

– Toilet wands – these are long-handled plastic “wands”, with adjustable lengths, which you can use to grip toilet paper, making it possible to wipe yourself on the toilet without bending forwards. This is mainly a difficulty for larger individuals.

– Handheld bidet– this is an attachment for your toilet – at the water inlet valve – which has a hose and a sprayer on the end.

The device is used to clean yourself on the toilet, so that you do not need to wipe, and there is no bending forwards and over reaching. You just point the water jet at the area you need to clean and then spray.

The device is easier to use and to control on a raised toilet seat with an open front, as you will have no difficulty positioning the head of the device, as you may do with a completely oval raise toilet seat.

 

Dressing Aids –

 

Getting dressed is going to take quite some time, as you are not going to be able to bend down, or twist as you may wish.

There are a number of assistive devices that will make dressing much easier, and which will mean you do not need to bend or reach down to perform tasks, such as putting on socks, or pants.

 

– Elastic shoes laces

– Long handled shoe horn

– Sock Aid

– Dressing stick

 

Bathing aids

 

The bathing is also going to pose quite a few problems.

Again, there are a number of items which can make showering and bathing easier.

– Bath transfer bench, or Bath board – you will not be able to take a bath sitting at the bottom of the bathtub, but you can sit on a bath transfer bench, or a bath board, and bathe sitting above the water – you also cannot immerse your hip wound underwater for some time until it is completely healed over.

– Shower chair – A shower chair will allow you to safely sit in the shower, reducing the risk of a standing fall.

– Long handled sponge – this is a long plastic handle with a sponge at the end, with which you can wash parts of your body you cannot otherwise reach without twisting and bending.

– Hand-held shower head – this reduces the amount you have to move around to get wet, and again you can rinse yourself, and reduces the need to twist or bend, and you can use it sitting down.

– Non-slip rubber mat – where you are going to have your feet in water it is best to have a non-slip mat.

– Grab bars – on the shower wall, and on the bath itself, or the wall next to the bath tub, a few grab bars are going to give lots of additional support and increase safety

I would buy one which has an engraved non-slip grip, as they are much easier to keep hold of, especially when your hands are wet.

Don’t buy the suction types – we have had three of those, and all came off the wall in my hand, and I only weight around 150 lb. Luckily it was not my 92-year-old mom holding on to the grab bar, otherwise she could have had a serious fall.

I installed a classic chrome grab bar, the type that you have to screw into the wall, and despite being worried I would break the tiles when drilling, it all went like clockwork.

– Toilet safety frame – a toilet safety frames is a framework which either secures to your toilet, or sits over and around it and has 4 legs.

The frame has large armrests which give added support for sitting and standing at the toilet.

I’m Gareth and I’m the owner of Looking After Mom and Dad.com

I have been a caregiver for over 10 yrs and share all my tips here.

Gareth Williams

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