ACL – FAQ
By General Info
What are the different types of grafts for an ACL reconstruction?
The 2 types of grafts utilized are known as Autografts and Allografts. Autografts come from the patient undergoing surgery. Autografts can be taken from either the patellar tendon or the hamstring. Allografts come from a cadaver donor. The decision of which graft to use will likely depend on the physician’s preference and the activity level of the patient.
When can I shower after surgery?
After your surgical dressing is removed, most physicians will allow you to shower as long as the incisions are covered by plastic wrap (from your kitchen) or waterproof Band-Aids. Once your staples or sutures are removed, you are usually allowed to shower without restrictions. Baths are usually not permitted until your incisions are fully healed.
How long will I need to use crutches?
Unless instructed otherwise, the patient will use crutches for about 2 weeks and is encouraged to apply as much weight on the leg as possible.
When will I get the sutures/staples out?
The sutures/staples will typically be removed 10-14 days after the surgery at your first post operative appointment.
How long will I need to wear the post-op brace?
The patient is typically required to be in a brace for the first 2-4 weeks. The brace will be in a locked position for the first week of post-op during the day and at night. With adequate muscle control brace will be unlocked for ambulation and may be removed for sleeping and showering. Once the brace is removed, some physicians allow progression to a short Functional Brace and others allow progression without a brace.
When should I begin physical therapy?
Physical therapy should begin as quickly as possible after surgery to avoid significant loss of quadriceps strengthening. The Physical Therapist will assess the patient’s strength, range of motion, and flexibility. The patient will also be given a list of exercises to perform at home.
How long is the recovery time?
The recovery time after an ACL repair differs from patient to patient. It will also depend on the type of graft used.
How many appointments are required?
The patient will usually follow up for routine post-op appointments 10-14 days after the surgery, 6 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, and at 1 year. Physical therapy will likely last for 4-6 months.
When can I return to sports?
Between months 4 and 6, the patient will begin functional training and progress as tolerated with running, jumping, and agility. The patient may begin gradual return to participation in sports after 6 months. The 1 year benchmark is used by most providers to return to all, unrestricted sporting activities.