Al Roker returns to TODAY after total knee replacement surgery

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Al Roker is getting back to regularly scheduled programming.

The beloved weatherman returned to TODAY on Tuesday, May 30, three weeks after his total knee replacement surgery.

"I've got a new knee," he told TODAY co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, adding that he feels "all good."

Al Roker (TODAY)
Al Roker (TODAY)

Co-hosting the Third Hour of TODAY, he shared that "this was a more involved operation because they were taking a knee out and putting a knee in ... but that said, it's coming along well."

Al, 68, previously had a replacement of the same knee over 20 years ago. After undergoing the procedure on May 9, he took time off to recover and get back on his feet. Last week, he surprised his co-hosts by making a cameo on the Third Hour of TODAY.

Tuesday marks his first day fully back in the studio after surgery.

While absent from the show, Al kept fans in the loop by sharing updates about his recovery on social media and video calls to the TODAY show.

On May 10, one day after his surgery, Al posted a video of himself walking on his new knee down the hallway of New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery.

A total knee replacement involves replacing an injured or worn out knee joint with an artificial implants, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery, which is done to reduce or eliminate pain and improve mobility of the knee.

Recovery time varies, but most people are able to walk without the help of a cane or walker about six weeks after surgery, per HSS.

In a video call to TODAY on May 15, Al updated fans on his progress and shared more details about his surgery. “Just been kind of hanging out," he told his co-hosts. "Just chilling out, not doing anything, which I know a lot of people find hard to believe."

On the call, Al clarified that he previously had knee replacement surgery on the same knee 23 years ago. “This one is a little more complicated because it was what they call a revision. It’s was a replacement of a replacement, so they had to take stuff out, put new stuff in, so it was a bit of a bear,” he said. "It's stiff."

About 85% to 90% of people who have a total knee replacement will be able to use the knee implants for 15 to 20 years, according to HSS, after which point some patients may need a second operation (or a revision) to fix or replace the implants.

Al's wife, Deborah Roberts, shared an update on Instagram on May 21, letting fans know that Al was on the mend but not as quick to get back on his feet, as the revision was a "harder surgery."

“It’s a little bit harder to snap back from, but he’s doing pretty well, moving a little slowly,” said Roberts. She thanked Al's followers for their concern and interest in Al's well-being.

On May 23, Al shared an X-ray of his new knee during a video call to TODAY to update fans on his progress.

“I’ve had a number of body replacements. It’s not a big surprise, (but) this one has been the toughest one yet because they had to take out the old one, which had some complications, and then put in a new one," Al told his co-hosts on the Third Hour of TODAY.

Al Roker (TODAY)
Al Roker (TODAY)

Holding up a photo of the X-ray on his phone for viewers, Al explained what went into his new knee. "There’s a hinge that goes all the way up into the femur down to the tibia and then there’s a hinge in between," he said.

"They really had to do a lot of work to get the old stuff out and the new hardware in. Plus, there’s a titanium cone in there for the bone to grow around."

He noted that he had been focusing on taking it easy and doing outpatient physical therapy at the hospital for his knee. On May 15, Al said he would be doing three days of physical rehabilitation per week for “a few months” to get himself back up to speed.

Al has remained committed to walking, documenting his progress in the Start TODAY Facebook group, and reached some major exercise milestones in the past year. Last May, Al walked the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and in August 2022, he hit a 200-day streak of walking 10,000 steps. In March, Al celebrated his “best day yet,” walking a record 13,600 steps in one day.

Al's total knee replacement is the latest step forward in his health journey.

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