Direct anterior hip surgery
Credit: Getty Images

Direct anterior hip surgery

Most hip surgery in the United States begins with an incision in the buttocks, slicing through one of the largest muscles on our body to get to the bone. But more surgeons are saying this procedure (the standard in American medical schools) is not always the best option. Instead, they argue that direct anterior hip surgery, which basically approaches the hip from the front, can minimize trauma and pain and substantially shorten the recovery period. "For a hip replacement, impingement, or arthritis, in my opinion the direct anterior approach is best because you're not cutting any muscles," says Tony Aram, director of the Robotic Surgery Center in Virginia. With the demand for orthopedic surgeons on the rise – thanks in part to aging boomers, it is predicted that hip replacement will rise by 174 percent by 2030 – some argue it's time to teach surgeons the posterior and anterior approach. There are downsides: Direct anterior hip surgery can cause numbness in the legs, and it isn't as helpful for a fractured hip. And since most surgeons are trained with the posterior approach, your doctor might not be comfortable with it. "You need to find out what is best for you," says Aram. "Talk to two or three surgeons and ask them point-blank for surgery that minimizes trauma, pain, and complications."