I'm in a water aerobics program for women with arthritis. Many of us have had a total hip replacement. I notice a wide range of differences in our scars. Some women have long scars on the side of the hip. Others have a very small scar along the back. A few have had the hip replacement put in from the front. Why are there so many different scars?

Total hip replacement (THR) is used more and more now for patients with arthritis and other hip problems. There have been many changes over the past 10 years in how this operation is done.

The type of incision used depends on a couple of things. The first is surgeon's preference. Some of that comes from how he or she was trained. The type of implant used can make a difference in the kind of surgery the patient has done.

The most recent advance in THR is the new, minimally invasive surgery. Only one small incision is made. It could be in the front, along the side, or in the back. Research shows there's no advantage of one placement over another. It usually depends on what the surgeon prefers.

Longer scars suggest the person had the standard open-incision method of hip replacement. A small scar occurs with the minimally invasive approach.