Skip to main content


Back to Listing

Charla Bocchiccio

Charla Bocchiccio
Posted on: 08/29/2021

Take me to St. Mark’s Hospital: They want what’s best for me

The intensity of pain slowly crept higher for Charla Bocchiccio, an actress and physically active Salt Lake resident. It started when her daily yoga positions began irritating her left hip; then she noticed a catching feeling as she walked her dog; eventually the discomfort grew constant and even interfered with her sleep.

“I took ibuprofen and iced it, but it just wouldn’t get better. My primary care physician sent me to a sports medicine doctor, who ordered an MRI,” Charla said. “The imaging revealed hip dysplasia in both hips, which was causing early osteoarthritis. He said I was looking at hip replacement surgery – and I was only 50! So, I started doing research. I wanted the best surgeon possible.”

Charla’s research led her to Salt Lake Orthopedics Clinic and eventually to Dr. O. Brant Nikolaus, an orthopedic surgeon trained at the Mayo Clinic who specializes in hip and knee reconstruction.

Dr. Nikolaus explained that hip dysplasia occurs when a hip socket doesn’t fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone. Most people with hip dysplasia are born with the condition. Charla’s pain came from hip dysplasia combined with osteoarthritis, which occurs as protective cartilage cushion on the bones wears down over time. 

“Dr. Nikolaus was super comfortable to talk with. There was something about him – he seemed more like a human being than a doctor who was just doing his job. I felt like he really wanted to get to know me and what quality of life meant for me, that way he could do what was best for me and get me back to my ideal quality of life,” Charla said.

Total hip replacement surgery: Replacing pain with possibilities

Dr. Nikolaus performed Charla’s total hip replacement surgery on the left side using an anterior approach, which spares more tissue than other hip replacement surgeries and often results in a shorter hospital stay and quicker recovery time. Charla said the procedure itself only took a couple of hours but made a long-lasting impact on how she lives her life.

“After surgery, you get walking right away. I only stayed one night in the hospital and during my time there, physical therapists taught me about taking steps safely. That was wonderful because our master bedroom is on the second floor, and as soon as I got home, I climbed them,” Charla said. “Overall, the recovery was pretty darn easy. Of course, there were moments when it felt hard, but it was absolutely worth it.”

Within six weeks, Charla gently returned to yoga and a fresh role on a movie set. Her new left hip proved stronger and steadier than before. But within the year, her right hip screamed with familiar aggravation – that side needed a total hip replacement surgery too.

“When the right leg followed suit, I wasn’t as afraid to go through with total hip replacement surgery because I had already gone through one and it was so great. I returned to Dr. Nikolaus and the teams at St. Mark’s Hospital because they were kind and considerate … You feel like they know you. It feels like family. It’s much different than a lot of other doctor situations,” Charla said.

Leading the way with personalized care

For both of her total hip replacement surgeries, Dr. Nikolaus offered Charla a bikini incision – sparing her from the traditional, observable scar that runs parallel to the thigh bone.

“At the time, I think Dr. Nikolaus was the only surgeon in Utah doing the bikini incision for hip replacement. I know it works best for certain body types and ages, and I was a good candidate. With me being an actor, Dr. Nikolaus wanted to offer that option so the scar wouldn’t be as noticeable. I really appreciate the personalized care,” Charla said.

The discrete incision has already proved helpful, as Charla recently filmed a poolside commercial while wearing a bathing suit.

“You couldn’t see the scars at all!” Charla said.

Thanks to the compassionate healthcare she received and the success of her two total hip replacement surgeries, Charla says she’s living a fully active life. In addition to hiking, skiing and practicing yoga, she’s capable of playing dynamic roles in life and on screen.

“This has been a big wake up call for me. I’m facing the facts that our bodies will run out eventually, but I’m so thankful these innovative surgeries can give us more quality of life,” Charla said.

Learn more about Orthopedic Care at St. Mark’s Hospital.

Charla Bocchiccio
Posted on: 08/29/2021

View Similar Stories

    loading, please wait
    COVID-19 Screening Tool