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Minimally-invasive orthopedic surgery

Using a new technique, incisions as small as 2 1/2 inches can be made for a hip replacement.

The smaller incision is not only cosmetically pleasing to patients, but also results in quicker recovery times, less pain and fewer complications.

The smaller incision can be concealed beneath underwear or a bathing suit. Incisions range up to 4 1/4 inches. The traditional incision for a hip replacement procedure is eight to 12 inches.

The difference is the approach taken, going between the gluteus muscles and spreading them, resulting in less tissue dissection and blood loss. Modified instruments also are used.

The smaller incision option may be offered by orthopedic surgeons to whose condition and health are best suited to it. That's primarily thin patients with a lower body mass index, although it can be successfully performed on some larger patients.

A recent decade-long study of minimally-invasive joint replacement surgery found that other advantages include short operative times (some 40 to 90 minutes) and that is preferred by patients of all ages.