What to Expect After ACL Reconstruction Surgery?


The road to recovery after ACL reconstruction surgery is all about patience and progress. You might initially experience mild discomfort and swelling. However, soon, you will witness regained strength and mobility. 

While patience might be required, you can eventually engage in all your favourite activities – from hiking up mountains to gracefully scoring goals. However, you must know what to expect after the surgery and follow the healthcare provider’s instructions. The following blog discusses these instructions and the ACL reconstruction surgery cost for those needing the procedure. 

What is ACL Reconstruction Surgery? 1


ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstruction surgery replaces a torn or damaged ligament in the knee. One of the major ligaments, the anterior cruciate ligament, stabilises the knee joint and helps control its movement. It provides stability during activities that involve twisting, pivoting, and sudden changes in direction. 

ACL reconstruction surgery is usually performed arthroscopically. It involves making small incisions and using a camera and specialised instruments to perform the surgery with minimal invasiveness.

  • During ACL reconstruction surgery, a surgeon typically uses a graft. It is a piece of tissue taken from the patient’s body (autograft) or a donor (allograft). 
  • The graft replaces the torn ACL. 
  • It is secured in place using screws or other fixation devices. 

After the surgery, a structured rehabilitation program is crucial to help the patient regain strength, flexibility, and mobility in the knee joint. This helps ensure a successful and optimal recovery. 

What to Expect in the Hospital?

ACL reconstruction surgery is usually completed in less than two hours. It is usually performed as an outpatient procedure. This means that you will be able to go home the same day after the surgery. After undergoing surgery, the following is what you can expect during your hospital stay:

  • You will spend a few hours in the recovery area until the effect of anaesthesia subsides.  
  • The nurse will monitor your vital signs like breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. 
  • Ice packs and compression may be applied to help reduce swelling.
  • Once your condition is stable, you will be transferred to a hospital room. 
  • You will receive medications to manage pain, reduce the risk of blood clots, and prevent infection.
  • The doctor will provide home care and follow-up instructions before discharge. 

What to Expect at Home? 2

Complete recovery after an ACL reconstruction surgery usually takes at least nine months. Athletes can typically return to sports within 12 months. You must follow several instructions at home to ensure a smooth recovery. Here’s what you can expect at home:

Wound Care

Upon leaving the hospital, you will have a dressing and elastic bandage around your knee. Leave these in place until you receive the green light from your healthcare provider. Instructions for wound care are as follows:

  • Cleanliness: Keep the incision clean and dry to prevent infection. You can shower once your dressing is removed. While showering, gently cleanse the area with mild soap and water, but avoid excess scrubbing. Pat the area dry. 
  • Dressing Changes: Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for changing dressings. If you need to change the dressing, gently place the elastic bandage over the fresh dressing. Wrap the elastic bandage around your knee, starting from the calf and proceeding up your leg. 

Pain Management

You may experience pain, swelling, and discomfort in the days following surgery. It generally subsides over time. Pain after surgery can be managed in the following ways:

  • Medications: Your surgeon will likely prescribe pain medications like ibuprofen to help alleviate pain and discomfort. Take these medicines as directed. 
  • RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation): It is a simple and effective approach for managing pain after ACL surgery. It involves resting your leg and applying ice to reduce swelling. Compression to support the area and leg elevation will help to minimise discomfort.

Activities to Be Performed

Initially, you will be asked to rest when you go home. You will be expected to do the following:

  • Elevate your leg by resting it on 1 or 2 pillows. Position the pillows beneath your foot or calf muscle. Avoid placing the pillow behind your knee, and remember to keep your knee straight.
  • Wear special support stockings to prevent blood clots. 
  • Perform exercises given by the doctor to maintain blood flow in the foot, ankle, and leg. 
  • Use crutches or a brace to assist with walking and stability. The surgeon or physical therapist will instruct you on proper use. Your mobility will be limited, and you may need help with daily activities initially.

Timeline for Recovery 3

Recovery from ACL reconstruction surgery is a gradual process that involves several phases. Individual timelines can vary based on factors like the type of graft used, surgical technique, and individual healing. However, the following is a general timeline for the different stages of ACL reconstruction surgery recovery:

Weeks 1-2

  • Focus on managing pain, swelling, and wound care.
  • Begin gentle walking, aerobic, and strength-training exercises with a physical therapist. 
  • Use crutches or a brace for support and protection.
  • You can stop taking pain medications after nine days. 
  • You can resume driving after about 11 days. 
  • Return to school or work after 7-11 days. 

Weeks 3-6

  • Move around normally without crutches. 
  • Begin more structured physical therapy sessions focusing on balance and proprioception (the body’s ability to sense movement, location, and action) exercises.
  • Engage in strengthening exercises for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles.

Months 2-3

  • Focus on increasing the strength and stability of the knee.
  • Reintroduce activities like hiking or biking. 
  • Refrain from activities that require quick turns and twisting movements. 
  • Around three months, begin short-duration jogging, gradually leading to more extended periods of running. 

Months 3-9

  • Continue with progressive physical therapy to optimise strength and function.
  • Reintroduce movements like jumping and side-to-side shuffles. 
  • Engage in sport-specific activities like light-kicking for football. 
  • Incorporate more activity and movements every month. 

It is important to remember that the recovery timeline is flexible and can vary based on individual factors. Close communication with your surgeon and physical therapist is essential to tailor the recovery plan to your needs. 

When to Call a Doctor? 4

After ACL reconstruction surgery, you must monitor your recovery and look for potential risks and complications. Reach out to your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms or situations:

  1. Excessive or persistent bleeding from the incision site or if your dressing becomes soaked with blood
  2. Intense or increasing pain that is not relieved by prescribed pain medication
  3. Sudden or significant swelling in the calf muscle
  4. Redness, swelling, pain, or discharge from the incisions
  5. Fever above 101℉

Cost of ACL Reconstruction Surgery 5

ACL reconstruction surgery cost typically ranges between ₹ 45,000 to ₹ 2,00,000. The average price of the procedure is ₹ 1,22,500. The cost can differ significantly depending on multiple factors. Some of these factors include:

  1. Surgical technique
  2. Surgeon’s experience
  3. Medical imaging and tests
  4. Implants and supplies
  5. Patient’s age and medical condition
  6. Type of hospital
  7. Length of hospital stay 
  8. City or location


The journey following ACL reconstruction surgery is a step-by-step process towards regaining strength, mobility, and confidence. Patience and commitment are essential as you navigate through phases of pain management, physical therapy, and gradual return to activities. With the guidance of medical professionals, you can have a successful recovery.

The HexaHealth team provides comprehensive support to patients, guiding them through every stage of their healthcare journey. From accurate diagnoses to tailored rehabilitation programs, our team helps patients make informed decisions. Contact a HexaHealth professional today to learn the ACL reconstruction surgery cost and procedure. 

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