Double Knee Replacement, Is It Safe?   

Double Knee Replacement, Is It Safe?

Woman playing pickleball. Knee replacement concept
Clinical Contributors to this story:
David Rodricks, M.D
Knee replacement is one of the safest surgeries available. Each year more than 540,000 patients nationally undergo this surgery, mostly to relieve painful forms of chronic arthritis, and almost all patients report less (or no) pain and improved function after recovery. 

What is knee replacement surgery?

Knee replacement surgery simply means that a surgeon will replace your damaged knee joints with a prosthesis, or an artificial knee. Your prosthesis can be made of plastic, metal or ceramic, and typically restores your knee to full functionality. This surgery can drastically reduce and even completely remove all arthritic pain you have been experiencing. 

Knee replacement surgery is common for adults over 60.

What’s a double knee replacement?

A double knee replacement simply means that both knees require a replacement surgery, whether they are replaced at the same time or at two separate intervals. 

The vast majority of patients have one knee replaced at a time, however this doesn’t mean that both cannot be done together, if necessary. Although, a double knee replacement surgery is less common, with an estimated four to six percent of patients with chronic pain in both knees electing to have them both replaced at the same time. 

If both knees require replacement, most often they are performed several months apart to allow for recovery and rehabilitation. This type of procedure is called a staged bilateral knee replacement, because the knees are replaced separately and typically a few months apart. 

The procedure to have both knees replaced at the same time is known as simultaneous bilateral knee replacement. The primary benefit to this surgery is that you will have one hospital visit and one recovery period. Rehabilitation is usually slower for those who opt for this procedure, as it's more difficult to utilize both knees at the same time. Many people who choose to have a simultaneous bilateral knee replacement need assistance at home during this rehabilitation period. 

Should I have a simultaneous bilateral knee replacement?

Is this procedure safe? Orthopedic hip and knee surgeon, David Rodricks, M.D. says the short answer is yes, but it does carry more risks than one knee replacement or two separate knee replacements, as well as a few potential benefits: 


Candidates for this surgery should be a healthy weight and not have any heart or lung issues, or diabetes. They should also have significant strength in the muscles, ligaments and tendons surrounding each knee, be motivated to undertake a rigorous rehabilitation program and have a strong social support system. 

Simultaneous bilateral knee replacement entails:

  • A longer operation (generally about three hours)
  • More time under anesthesia
  • A longer hospital stay
  • More blood loss
  • More risk of blood clots
  • More stress on the body during recovery
  • A more intense rehabilitation (and in some cases, a stay in a rehabilitation facility)


If both knees need to be replaced, double knee replacement is less expensive than two separate procedures, although most private insurers and Medicare cover both these procedures. Compared to having two knees replaced in separate procedures, it entails:

  • Only one surgery
  • Less overall anesthesia
  • Less pain
  • Shorter recovery time than two separate surgeries.

All knee replacement patients must undergo at least eight weeks of post-operative rehabilitation, whether they have one or both knees replaced, but having only one surgery should involve less down time from work or other activities.

“The decision to have simultaneous bilateral knee replacement involves many health and personal factors, and should always be done in consultation with your doctor,” says Dr. Rodricks. “If you are seeking a surgeon to perform any type of knee replacement, make certain you choose one with a successful track record and a team of experts to help you through the entire process.”

“As with any surgery, having a strong support system is so critical to your recovery,” adds Dr. Rodricks. “Before a procedure, make sure you’ve set up a plan with your friends and family, outlining where you will need help and where they can step in. Having a trusted support system will take some of the burdens off of your plate, so you can focus on recovering.” 

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


Subscribe to get the latest health tips from our expert clinicians delivered weekly to your inbox.

We use cookies to improve your experience. Please read our Privacy Policy or click Accept.