When my 83-year-old mother recently found out she had to have total hip replacement surgery it wasn’t clear how quickly she would recover – so we had to make the decision to either do a full remodel of the bathroom or come up with a few temporary fixes to make the toilet and bath more accessible. One of the top priorities was for her to be able to use the toilet easily without struggling to get up and down from the low toilet seat.
We decided against doing any major renovation so rather than replacing the toilet (with a higher “comfort height” one) we started looking for the best raised toilet seat we could find – preferably one with built-in handles that was very stable and easy to install – to add extra height to the existing toilet seat.
In the end, we decided on the Carex Health Brands Toilet Seat Elevator to raise the seat and provide her with built-in toilet seat handles to also help push herself up out of the seat (as well as ease down to sit). My parents have an “American Standard” brand toilet -it’s a standard round shape -which is pretty much the same size across brands.
As long as you have a standard round it should work for you. If you have an elongated toilet, the same brand makes this model for Elongated Toilets. . If you’re not sure which you have – scroll down a bit to the pictures of each style to make sure you get the right one to match your toilet.
There are several other decent options on the market, which we review in detail below. We’ve also pointed you to one seat elevator that does not have handles, this can be a good option if you don’t feel you need them- or if you already have bathroom grab bars installed next to the toilet.
Why Buy a Toilet Seat Riser
This may seem obvious but just to make sure we are on the same page- these risers are designed to raise the height of your existing toilet seat by a few inches to make it easier for the user to sit down and get up from the toilet. The normal height of a standard toilet without being elevated can turn the simple process of sitting down to use the toilet into a major ordeal, especially for people that suffer from arthritis, hip pain or back pain when going from a standing position to a sitting one (or vice versa).
The problem is especially hard for people that are recovering from hip replacement surgery or other post-op pain. Women, in general, are more affected by this (simply because then need to sit multiple times a day on the toilet to urinate). A raised toilet seat can dramatically reduce the pain and effort it takes to get on and off the toilet.
What to consider when buying raised toilet seats
Raised toilet seats are relatively simple devices. Some models do require minor assembly but do not have moving parts or removable attachments but there are a few things you want to look at before deciding on your purchase:
Toilet Seat Shape
When selecting a raised toilet seat, it’s very important to match the shape of your existing toilet seat since it will go on top of the elevator. Picking the right shape will make the best fit and prevent the seat from slipping or moving on top of the elevator.
All major toilet brands (Kohler, Toto, Saniflo, Niagara) sell models that are either elongated or round, there are also some more unusual shapes made for very compact spaces but the majority of bathrooms in the US will have either elongated or round toilet seats.
If you buy the wrong shape (i.e. a round seat elevator for an elongated toilet seat) you will NOT get a good fit and it may be unstable. This is especially important since the users with reduced mobility and/or disability are relying on it to be a safe and stable seat!
Here are the basic shapes available on the market:
A seat with a rounded-front seat, these are designed to fit round-front toilets often used to save space in a compact bathroom.
These seats measure 16 ¾” or less.
An elongated toilet seat measures 18 5⁄8” or more and fits most elongated toilets including compact elongated toilets.
Another major consideration is if you will want the seat to incorporate built-in handles to help support the person when they get on and off the toilet. It’s an added feature the most people will appreciate, even if they don’t need it all the time. If they are feeling weak or need to reach out to help lower themselves, the handles can be useful.
The one reason you may not want to get a seat with handles is if you already have grab bars installed on both sides of the toilet which would eliminate the need for extra handles or if you are putting the toilet in a very small, compact space that does not have room for them.
However, this scenario would be rare in any modern home since most local building codes would allow for ample space on either side of the toilet. If in doubt, it’s best to measure before you buy.
Best Raised Toilet Seats for 2019
Our Top Pick: Carex Toilet Seat Elevator with Handles
Carex Health Brands has been manufacturing self-care and in-home medical devices for over 35 years including mobility products (walkers, lifting seats, wheelchairs and canes) as well as bathroom safety devices (grab bars, transfer benches, bathtub rails) as well as their Toilet Seat Elevator with handles which we review here.
The raised toilet seat installs under your existing seat and raises it up an extra 3.5 inches making it noticeably higher and easier to sit down (and get up from) for disabled people or elderly adults that are dealing with reduced mobility due to injury, surgery or just general difficulties from aging.
The Carex seat elevator comes un-assembled but requires minimal assembly. In the box, you’ll find the seat elevator, two separate handles (metal with built-in padding), two long bolts, 4 washers and two wing nuts.
- You’ll first need to remove your existing toilet seat.
- Snap the handles into the seat elevator (there are brass “buttons” that need to depressed, then when you slide it into the tub (built-in to the bottom of the seat) they will “click” into place.
- Then place the Seat Elevator in place so that it lines up with the holes on the toilet bowl.
- Place your old toilet seat directly on top of the seat elevator.
- To secure it to the toilet bowl you need to pass the longer bolts thru the holes (of the toilet seat and the elevator).
- Using one washer on the top and another on the bottom and securing to the toilet bowl using the wing nuts provided.
It’s important to make sure it is very securely fastened to the toilet bowl to prevent it from slipping or sliding from side to side BEFORE the using for the first time.
Please click here to see the instruction manual from Carex Health Brands for this model (PDF file will open in a new window).
I have seen some comments online by people saying that the seat was very wobbly and unstable after installing, some even say they just threw it out since it didn’t work! Although it’s possible it didn’t work correctly for their exact model of toilet, from what I’ve read- I think some of these people are probably buying the wrong model. Keep in mind there are separate Carex Brand models:
This one is for Standard Round Toilets. There is a separate model for Elongated Toilets. They have very similar characteristics but are specifically designed the respective dimensions of each style so again, it’s important you buy the correct one to match your toilet.
- Raises the seat enough to make it easier for the user to get on and off the toilet
- Fits your existing toilet seat
- Has handles on either side, they are optional so could be left off (or just used on one side) if you don’t have space or don’t need them
- The bolts provided are made of metal so are prone to rust (most toilet seats come with nylon bolts which are waterproof and rust-proof).
- Some users complain that the riser is unstable, may not get a perfect fit on 100% of toilets.
Other things to consider: this is designed to be used with toilet seats that have removable bolts since the longer bolt provided needs to pass through the seat and the riser. There are some older toilet seats with the bolts permanently attached. Although this is rare now, still worth taking a look to ensure yours is compatible.
Essential Medical Supply Elevated Toilet Seat with Arms, Elongated
If you are looking to compare your options for an elongated elevated toilet seat, this seat from Essential Medical Supply is another very popular option. I’ve compared the two and honestly cannot tell them apart.
The design, dimensions and installation seem identical to the Carex Brand above. Both are reputable companies with established histories selling medical devices. Essential Medical is a family operated and owned business started in 1985 and based in Florida.
The one main advantage to Carex is that has separate models for Elongated and Round shaped toilets whereas
I’ve only found an elongated option from Essential Medical. (Essential does sell both round and elongated, link above has been updated- click to see both options on Amazon).
If you are looking for an elongated seat, you may want to compare both those brands. I’ve found that price is usually comparable, but if you were to find one on sale, I would feel confident with either because they are so similar and both well-known companies.
Ableware Hinged Elevated Toilet Seat
Don’t need handles (arms)?
If you don’t need handles on the toilet seat (if you just don’t feel they’re necessary or if you have grab bars already installed on the sides of your toilet) then you’ll want to take a look at the Ableware Hinged Elevated Toilet Seat. It comes in both round and elongated shapes.
One big advantage of this model is that it flips up- making it much more convenient to clean under the lid. The seat is made by Maddak, the company claims to be the first in the world to introduce an elevated toilet seat. Unlike the other brands that we’ve mentions, which are bolted to the toilet bowl and would need to be removed to clean under, the “Ableware” by Maddak is a two-piece construction that is hinged so you can flip it up, just like a normal toilet seat.
This is also useful if you have some people in the same house that don’t need the riser-namely men can lift the lid to relieve themselves standing up without the age-old argument about lifting the lid to pee.
Apart from that potential benefit, it’s just much easier to clean than an elevated seat that is bolted in place and requires the bolt to be loosened to reach under it. It’s slightly more expensive than the other models we reviewed here, but if you are looking for an elevated seat without handles, that’s convenient to clean, the Ableware may be your best option for hinged toilet seat.
Most of these seats come with the minimal installation. To install most models, you’ll need to take out the existing bolts that hold the toilet seat to the porcelain bowl. Then you set the seat elevator on the bowl, put the old seat back on top of the riser and then use the longer bolts (almost always included in the new seat elevator) that goes thru both the set and the elevator.
The installation can usually be done by hand, although to get a tight fit you may need to tighten the wing nuts with pliers. However, the installation is relatively simple. If you have limited grip strength it’s possible you’d need some assistance to put together. As you can see in the video below the installation is straight forward.
If needed you could hire a handy-man to install this to get a tight fit, but there really wouldn’t be a need to hire a plumber to install since these are really pretty simple devices and no plumbing involved.
This short video shows the installation of a raised toilet seat. The seat used is a Carex, similar to the one we reviewed above although the one shown in the video is a simple model without the optional side handles. The installation process would be the same regardless of the handles or armrests.
What is the best toilet height after hip replacement surgery?
Short answer: 17-19 inches will work best for patients after getting a hip replacement.
Explanation: Average toilets in the US are normally 15″ high. However many people, especially taller individuals will find this uncomfortably low. Let’s keep in mind, the average chair in the US is 17 inches high (dining room or office chair for example).
People with limited mobility will often find this height painfully low. This is especially true for the elderly, disabled or anyone suffering from arthritis or joint pain. Because of this, most toilet makers now manufacture toilet options with other height options. In recent years, newer “comfort height” or “right height” toilets that measure 17 to 19 inches high have become much more common.
These extra 2-4 inches (compared to the standard 15-inch height of a standard toilet) can make the difference between an uncomfortable process of getting on and off the toilet to a much more accessible and pain-free solution. These are also referred to as “ADA Compliant Height” toilets (Americans with Disabilities Act) and have become much more popular for elderly persons.
For people that have had hip replacement are prime candidates for this type of toilet since the post-op pain and rehab makes it much more difficult to transition from a standing to sitting position. The problem is multiplied for women since they need to sit several times a day to urinate compared to men who stand to do so.
Standard toilet seat height: 15 inches
“Comfort Height” models: 17 to 19 inches
Standard + raised toilet seat: adds the missing inches (normally 2 to 4) to make the height equivalent to an ADA toilet without needing to replace your existing toilet.
We had debated doing a remodel with new shower, grab bars and the whole lot, but raising the toilet seat had become the top priority, and with the operation approaching soon we needed a quick solution. After comparing the available raised toilet seats on the market, we went with the Carex model.
The most important thing is to make sure you get the shape that will fit your existing toilet seat so you don’t have to spend extra money getting a new seat to fit your new riser. The next thing to decide is if your seat needs arms built-in, this will depend on the mobility that the user has and if you already have handles or grab bars installed near within arms reach of the toilet.
If you are looking for a toilet seat for a heavy person, you may want to see our article here – these toilet seats are specifically designed for persons that need a larger seat that can take the extra weight- some are rated for up to 800 or even 1,200 pounds.
They generally do not have handles and raise the seat up to 2.5 inches (compared to 4.5″ of the ones reviewed above) but still may be worth looking into if you are looking for a one that can take more weight than the standard toilet seat.