Going home after shoulder surgery

Exactly what will happen in your case will vary depending on where and when you surgery takes place. However, the general schedule of your day will be somewhat consistent.

Going home after shoulder surgery

You usually go home the morning after your surgery. Your follow-up appointment will be arranged prior to discharge.

Day Surgery Patients

You will remain in the recovery ward for approximately 2 to 4 hours. When you are fully awake you may go home.

The Dressings

When you leave the hospital you will have 2 types of dressing:

  1. A large bulky white dressing (combine dressing). Once the combine dressing is removed you may shower but try and keep the waterproof dressing as dry as possible.
  2. Small waterproof dressings which, if possible remain intact for 5 days. If the waterproof dressings do get wet or are soiled, you may remove them and put clean dressing on remembering not to touch the inside of the waterproof dressing.

After 5 days post operation you may take all of the dressing down.

You will have steri-strips which will probably come off on their own or with the waterproof dressings. If they are still on they will be taken out on your first visit to Dr Haber’s Surgery.

If there are stitches they may catch on your clothing. You can just put a band aid over the stitches.

The sling is only removed when you need to shower and remains on until your first post-operative visit with Dr Haber.

You may leave the wound intact but if you wish to shower after this period it is advised you change your dressing to a light dry dressing.

This may be changed each time the wound gets wet at showering. Leave the waterproof dressing on for 5 days, unless they it is wet underneath the dressing.

Some swelling and discomfort around your incision is normal.

Call Dr Haber’s Surgery (or if after hours, the hospital at which your surgery was performed) immediately if you notice any of the following:

    • You notice signs of infection such as fever, chills, drainage from the incision, redness and/or swelling of the incision.
    • Excessive swelling, fever, chills, bleeding or discoloration, drainage from the incision;
    • Bleeding that does not stop after 15 minutes of direct pressure;
    • Your incision opens.


After discharge from hospital the sling is only removed when you need to shower. To shower just take your arm out of the sling, bend over, let the arm hang and wash under your arm. Always remember to support your arm and not to actively lift your arm away from your body.

The sling must otherwise remain on until your post-operative visit with Dr Haber.

At this appointment you will be advised to commence passive exercises and will be given information on rehabilitation and physiotherapy. Don’t start any exercises before we advise you

Pain Control

The anesthetist will give you a prescription for medication to control pain. It may be filled at the hospital’s pharmacy or at your local pharmacy depending on when and where your surgery is performed.

Take the prescribed medication as ordered when you need it. The pain should improve slowly within a few days.

You may receive a note on discharge explaining the medications the anesthetist has recommended for you, based on his preoperative consultation.

Sleeping as upright as possible (possibly in a recliner) seems to help.

Regular medication

If you are taking any regular medications, please resume them after your surgery. This includes blood thinners such as aspirin and Warfarin unless specified otherwise.

Follow-up appointment

We will give you a follow-up appointment prior to you discharge. Typically this will be 8-10 days after surgery. Please call us if you are unable to attend.