Sharon Thomas was experiencing excruciating pain in her hips six months prior to her simultaneous bilateral total hip replacement in 2019. Sharon could hardly walk or use the stairs. She had arthritis in her hips, a family history of hip replacements and mobility pain caused by her weight. “My weight made the pain worse because of the pressure it caused when I walked,” said Sharon. Simple movement like walking to the bedroom from the kitchen caused great pain.
Sharon’s x-rays made it clear that she would need a hip replacement. Her doctor referred her to IBJI’s Jeffrey Ackerman, MD. Dr. Ackerman is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee reconstruction and hip preservation. As this was Sharon’s first time at IBJI, she made sure to do her research and was pleased to read many positive reviews of Dr. Ackerman.
Sharon scheduled her first appointment in February 2019, at IBJI’s Avondale office. At this appointment, Dr. Ackerman informed her that she would need to lose weight before he would operate. They set a weight loss goal of 75 lbs. in order for her to have the surgery.
She was determined to do everything she could to lose the weight. Not only did Sharon want to be fit for surgery, but she wanted to be healthier overall. With Sharon’s determination, she lost the weight in eight months. Sharon advises, “When it comes to losing weight prior to surgery, you have to put your mind to it and have a plan. You have to want to do it to better your health and be able to have the surgery. It is doable and it’s about your motivation. Different things work for different people. I’m very pleased that Dr. Ackerman told me he wouldn’t operate unless I lost weight.” On her second visit with Dr. Ackerman, her surgery was scheduled for October 2019.
On the day of her surgery, Sharon was anxious. “This was my first major surgery and I was excited to get it over with so that I could continue to lose weight.” She stayed at the hospital for three nights after surgery, during which a physical therapist started her rehabilitation process.
Unfortunately, Sharon developed a urinary tract infection a week after her hospital stay. She also discovered an allergy to one of her medications and began breaking out in a rash behind her legs. Less than a month after surgery, the incision on her right leg opened causing fluid to leak. She went to the emergency room and Dr. Ackerman was called to schedule a second surgery to clean her incision and stitch it back up.
“My transition after the second surgery was much smoother. Dr. Ackerman explained to me how people heal better at home. It’s amazing how quickly your body wants to heal.” Sharon felt great in the last month of her recovery. Even though she says that her second surgery was “gross,” because her incision opened, she says that it was more memorable because she didn’t experience pain afterward.
Her stitches were taken out in January of 2020, which was a turning point. With the help of working with IBJI’s physical therapists for two months, she was able to walk to the movie theater and on a treadmill without the pain she once had.
Dr. Ackerman says, “Sharon has done great. Most importantly she lost 75 lbs. prior to surgery to achieve her goal weight and a BMI less than 40 to be a successful candidate for hip replacement surgery. She is a great example of a patient success story because of her determination of losing weight prior to surgery and how it leads to a successful surgical outcome.”
Sharon credits her weight loss and surgery success to her motivation. “Once I put my mind to something, I’m very committed to it.” This commitment is what helped her to lose weight so that she could get the surgery. “Any pain I do feel now moving forward is going to be nothing compared to what I felt before. My friends all say I look great, and I feel really great too,” says Sharon. “The outcome of my surgery and my mobility wouldn’t have happened as it did without the weight loss. It was all on me to put in the work, I knew I needed to lose weight, I just needed someone to wake me up.” Sharon is currently continuing her weight loss plan by utilizing meal planning so that she can become healthier and more active.
Jeffrey Ackerman, MD is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon specializing in hip and knee reconstruction and hip preservation. Fellowship trained in complex primary and revision hip and knee replacement procedures, he performs minimally invasive anterior and posterior approach hip replacements. Dr. Ackerman is one of few surgeons trained in hip arthroscopy and open pelvic osteotomy surgery.