My apologies for not responding sooner. I went through exactly the same mental and physical pain some of you are describing - see my posts above - putting off any kind of op until I had no choice. When I had surgery Sept 24 of last year I could hardly walk and the bad leg was so weak I could no longer clip into the spd pedals on my bike. After the op the surgeon told my the hip was totally destroyed. Let me just net out my experiences.
1) I had the total replacement, titanium head. My surgeon went through the options with me and recommended this for maximum stability, knowing how much skiing meant to me.
2) After all the agonizing, totally freaked out at the thought of not being able to ski again, I found myself in the same ward as a guy who'd had the same op the day before, and is a patroller on Blackcomb. He said quite a few patrollers have gone through it and were back skiing full time.
3) I was walking unaided, riding my bike and swimming 1.5k stints long before Christmas. First day back skiing was Feb 14 with lots of ice on the hill. I was very nervous for the first run, stuck to greens and blues for a while but felt totally in control and quite strong.
4) By March I was skiing everything on the hill, double-blacks, off piste, mashed potatoes, the whole deal. Had my first fall - butt plant - day 3, first over-the-handlebars early March, several double-ejections since (I'm on din 7-8). No ill effects. My son says I'm skiing better than ever. The patroller in my ward is back on full-time patrol and doing just fine. Our local hill closed yesterday and I 've managed to get in nearly 270 runs in 9 weeks. The only signs I've had anything done are a slight ache mid-thigh at the end of a hard day, and if I try back-to-back days I'm certainly not as strong on the fixed side second day.
Saw the surgeon for a check-up last week. He's a little concerned that I don't push it too hard and is warning that if anything does go wrong, it could go seriously wrong. I don't ski recklessly, keep my speed down, make lots of turns, keep my days short, pay lots of attention to my gear. But I can tell you I feel born again. I really regret not having this done earlier. The other hip is on its way out too, probably to be done next year (after ski season) but I'm not going to let it get as bad as the first one.
One thing I found over the past few months is that you have to keep up the other activities to help the recovering leg along. It's so good to be able to ski again but it's a sport that's quite tough on your body and doesn't provide the range of exercise your recovering leg needs. I do as much walking, bike-riding and swimming (including kick-board lengths) as I can.
Hope this helps. I received great support from the folks on this thread before I went in for my op and I'm so grateful. We're lucky people. Our parents had to grit their teeth and give up on much of what provides pleasure in life. Let's live it to the full and happy skiing to all of you.