Going through Security

Over the last year I have traveled a lot.   Out to Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick by car, down to Florida to visit family, all the way to Jamaica for a friends wedding and even out to California (twice).  Most of which was all done within the first year of my second hip replacement.

Traveling, or at least going through some form of security, is something we will all experience, it’s just part of life.  Once you have hip replacements it changes, not drastically, but it is different.

Knowing that this is just a part of life now I asked my surgeon a couple questions after my first surgery.

Should I have a card identifying my replacements?

Do I need to carry anything with me to go through security?

The answer was simple.

No.  It’s so common that it’s not a problem.

Well, okay.  That works for me!  Easy peazy.

And honestly, I’ve never had to worry about anything past just simply explaining that I have hip replacements. No one has ever asked me for a card or anything to prove that I had surgery (although I could simply just pull up my blog or Instagram account on my phone).

But while it may be easy there are still a few things you should know before heading through security, some of which may or may not apply, all depends on the machine and where you’re passing through.

Airports Security:

  • Tell them you have replacements before walking through.  Just getting everyone on the same page.
  • You will definitely get some surprised looks from time to time (usually in smaller airports) either when you set off the metal detector or advise that you have implants before the security check.
  • If there is only a metal detector available for scanning, you will get an additional pat and/or wand check on the other side.  It will (most of the time) set the metal detectors off so just be prepared.
  • If there is an option of a body scanner v. metal detector, let them know you have replacements and they will just send you through the body scanner.  That way you don’t have to go through additional checks on the other side.
  • Starting conversations with the other implant or pacemaker recipients in line for the body scanner an be a fun way to pass the time.  Starting a conversation when someone gives you a surprised look is a nice way to break the tension or their shocked look.

Sporting or Other Events:

  • Not every metal detector will go off.  I have found this in relation to events, not so much with airports (99% of the time they dinged for me).  I’m not sure if this is due to the quality of the machines used in different areas or what.
  • Not all wands will pick up on replacements.  Again, I think this has to do with the quality of equipment used at venues v. airports.
  • I had a security officer tell me once that the wand will make a different beeping noise (frequency) based on the metal being an implant, versus an external object (not sure how true that is but I found it interesting).
  • If you are still on crutches or using a cane, it’s okay to utilize the elevator or other entrances.  I struggled with this a little bit at first but your body is going through a lot so it’s okay to get a little special treatment, but mainly because it’s safer!

No matter what age you are when you get a joint replacement you will go through security.  This is the time we live in.

I was a little nervous my first few times going through security.  Just not sure what they would do or say, how they would react or if they would believe that I had hip replacements, all those questions and concerns went through my head.  But it’s so common, lots of people have different types of replacements or medical devices that set off security scanners.

Have you had any experiences with security post-replacement?

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