• Follow us on

Shoulder Reconstruction

What is a shoulder reconstruction?

Shoulder reconstruction surgery involves repair of the torn or stretched ligaments so that they are better able to hold the shoulder joint in place. If treatment such as immobilisation, medication, physiotherapy and manipulation are not successful in treating the torn or stretched ligaments, a shoulder reconstruction will then be recommended.

During surgery the torn area is stitched back to the shoulder socket with the help of special anchors and the over stretched capsules and ligaments are tightened. 

Shoulder reconstruction can be performed through a scope with smaller incisions and tiny instruments to perform the repair (keyhole surgery). However some patients may need an open surgical procedure which involves a larger incision over the shoulder to perform the repair.

What things do I need to do to be ready for surgery?

You will have received instructions from your doctor and the pre-admission clinic. The Clinical Nurse Consultant will call you three days from before your surgery to ensure you are on track with your preparations for surgery.

Please follow those instructions and complete ‘My checklist to be ready for surgery’.

Having your home prepared before you have your operation will make things easier when you return home after your operation.

Preparing meals in advance and freezing them, or buying frozen dinners will help make meal preparation easier when you return home. You will need to organise family, friends or neighbours to help with the housework, shopping, driving or providing light assistance with showering dressing and putting on and taking off the stockings required to be worn for six weeks after your operation

What can I expect after my operation?

Operation and recovery - Your operation will usually take between one to two hours.
You will then remain in the recovery area until you are awake enough to return to the ward. This may take up to three hours.

Lines and drains - When you return to your ward you may still need oxygen, will have IV lines for fluid and pain medication.

Diet - If you eat and drink normally straight after your operation it may cause you to feel sick.
Eating and drinking small amounts slowly will help to prevent this.
You should be eating and drinking normally by Day 1 following your operation.

Pain - It is normal to have some pain and discomfort after your surgery. However, it is important that your pain is controlled so you are able to cough, breathe deeply and do your exercises.
Please let someone know about your pain so it can be treated and managed. Ice packs on the shoulder can be used to help reduce the swelling.

Infection control - Every effort will be made to prevent infection. Hand hygiene is essential when recovering from this surgery. Please wash your hands regularly.
Some doctors choose to prescribe antibiotics to help prevent infections.

Blood clot prevention - To help prevent blood clots forming in your legs (thromboembolism) your doctor may request that you wear a pair of white compression stockings as well as compression pumps after your surgery. If your doctor has ordered stockings they can be removed for your shower and put back on afterwards. You will need to wear the stockings for six weeks after your operation. Non-slip socks will also be provided.

Mobilising and exercising - Exercising is crucial for proper rehabilitation and your hysiotherapy
will begin on the day of your operation. Keeping your arm in a sling when you are mobile or placing a pillow under your operated arm, while resting in bed, will help keep your arm from being dislocated.

Bowels - Bowel function can be affected by surgery and medication. To help your bowels return to normal function you may require bowel medication. Increasing your water intake and eating food high in fibre will also help your bowel function to return to normal.

Going home - Depending on your recovery, it is anticipated you will be discharged the next day after your surgery. We aim for discharge from the ward to be 10 am.
Make sure the people helping you are aware of your discharge.


What complications could occur?

As with other operations, reconstruction involves small risk of infection, stiffness or restricted movement, nerve and vessel injury, failure of the procedure and side effects of general anaesthesia.


What can I expect from my physiotherapist?

You can contribute greatly to the success of your operation by following the instructions of your health team. It is important to consider yourself as part of the team.

Physiotherapist: While you are in hospital your physiotherapist will give
information on:

  • deep breathing and circulation
  • getting in and out of bed, positioning in sitting and lying, and walking
  • taking precautions with your new shoulder as advised by your doctor
  • commencing your exercise program.


What will it be like down the track - getting back into life!

Proper rehabilitation under your doctor’s and physiotherapist’s guidance will result in a more successful recovery.

Your arm will be kept in a sling for four to six weeks to facilitate healing. Avoiding
heavy lifting during the first six weeks is a requirement. You will be working with your
physiotherapist who will provide you specific instructions on rehabilitation activities,
exercises and strengthening.

Consult your doctor prior to returning to driving.

 Having prepared yourself well and participated actively in your treatment, you will be
able to return quickly to a more active independent lifestyle.



Staff of Mater Hospital Brisbane, South Brisbane
Allied Health and Mater at Home

For more information about Mater Hospital Brisbane—South Brisbane, please
call Reception on 07 3163 8111.

Mater acknowledges consumer consultation in the development of this patient information.
Mater Doc Num: PI-CLN-420078
Last modified 08/2/2018.
Consumers were consulted in the development of this patient information.
Last consumer engagement date: 24/4/2016
For further translated health information, you can visit healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/ supported by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services that offers a range of patient information in multiple languages.
Share this pageAdd to Twitter Add to Facebook Add to LinkedIn Add to Google Bookmarks

Mercy. Dignity. Care. Commitment. Quality


Was this information helpful?


 Security code

Please note: we will endeavour to respond to your enquiry within five (5) business days.