What To Expect While Recovering From Arthroscopic Surgery

If your doctor recommends an arthroscopy procedure to treat a joint condition, you will probably recover faster than you would if you have traditional joint surgery, which requires larger incisions and more downtime. During arthroscopic surgery, your physician makes smaller incisions; however, even though your surgical incisions are smaller and your procedure is less invasive than traditional joint surgery, you will still need to prepare for your recovery. Here are some things to expect while you recover from your arthroscopic surgery.

Dressing Changes 

You will be expected to perform dressing changes after your arthroscopic joint surgery. While the dressing your surgeon applied on the day of your surgery will need to remain in place for a couple of days, it will need to be removed and changed if it gets wet or soiled by drainage or blood.

The surgical dressing will also need to be replaced if it falls off. After your doctor closes your incisions with sutures, they will also apply butterfly bandages, or butterfly strips, to the area. Butterfly bandages can be used in conjunction with traditional sutures to close a wound, or they can be used by themselves. Your butterfly bandages will fall off by themselves; however, if you still have any remaining strips on your incisions after a couple of weeks, your orthopedic surgeon may tell you to carefully remove them.


Before you are discharged from the hospital or outpatient surgical center after your arthroscopy procedure, your doctor will give you postoperative instructions. These instructions will likely include icing instructions. Icing the affected area is very important after your surgery because it helps diminish inflammation and it reduces pain.

When you ice the surgical site per your doctor's instructions, you may be less likely to need higher doses of pain medication while you recover. While icing is an essential component to your recovery, be sure you do it correctly because placing the ice directly on your skin raises your for tissue damage and frostbite. After the inflammation subsides, your doctor may recommend the application of heat. A heating pad or warm compress can help promote circulation to the affected area and enhance mobility.

If you have questions or concerns about what to expect after your arthroscopic joint surgery, talk to your physician. When you follow your surgeon's postoperative recommendations, you are more likely to experience a more favorable outcome and a faster recovery. For more information on arthroscopy procedures, contact your doctor.