Hints and Tips for Surgery

For anyone who is due to have similar surgery I recommend a bit of forward planning.

Pre op

  • Practice going up and down the stairs using only one arm the handrail will be on the wrong side at some point.
  • If taking regular medication, put enough into containers for two or three weeks to avoid having to push out of foil packets.
  • Practice all tasks normally done with other hand at least 4 weeks before operation e.g. wiping “important little places”, putting on lipstick, brushing teeth/hair and drinking cups of coffee.
  • Practice eating using cutlery in the “opposite hand”, if you are having surgery on your dominate arm then you may need to use the other one for a while.
  • Try to do some simple exercises until date of operation.
  • Practice getting up and down from a chair and bed not using operated arm.
  • Have a dental check–up to ensure no loose fillings or crowns.
  • Get eyelash and eyebrow tint or consider getting hair cut short – if you can bear it.
  • Get a manicure and pedicure week before op – but no nail polish.


Firstly, think about what you wear each day, ladies will need to think about purchasing some front fastening bras as it will be some time before you can fasten your own around your back. Try Damart online if you struggle to find any in the shops. In addition, consider the following items:

  • Jogging bottoms, or elasticated waist trousers (or a size bigger than usual) are another “must have” – it’s so much easier going to the loo with one hand if you don’t have to fiddle with buttons and belts – or wear skirts.
  • Slip on shoes or boots with zips are much easier than laces.
  • Shirts which button up the front are great for the first couple of weeks when you may find it difficult to get dressed.
  • Night–wear needs to be considered as you will be wearing the sling in bed at night so I advise that you wear a nightshirt (or pyjamas) with a collar to stop it rubbing your neck, again button–up will be easier for the first week or so.
  • Cloak for a coat if winter.
  • Loop ear–rings (studs won’t work).

Safety Issues

  • Look at bathroom carefully. Would a temporary grab handle help getting in and out of shower/bath?  Do you need an additional non–slip mat in shower?
  • Bedding – duvets can be heavy. Would you be better with a sheet plus a light fleece blanket?
  • Soft pillow vertically on operated side to rest shoulder/elbow in sling and ensure you don’t turn onto the shoulder during sleep.
  • Leaving hospital and travelling by car: use a small hand towel under seat belt if it has to go over the operated shoulder – or sit in the back of the car on the opposite side.
  • Shower cape – wound dressings are waterproof but additional protection might be considered. www.miragehealthgroup.com/protect–cape These are re–useable and keep shoulder dry under shower. Or hairdressing waterproof cape.


  • Post op Exercises: do in front of mirror to ensure that you keep your shoulder down
  • Ice, Ice, Baby – before and a lot after your shoulder replacement operation. http://www.vivomed.com/IceBand-Shoulder-Brace
  • Use small flannel for “wall push” exercises to protect hand/arm/wrist.
  • Tea towels make good bibs post operation when eating!
  • Purchase E45 (cheaper) or Bio oil to use on scar 4 days AFTER removal of stitches.

At one of my physio sessions one of the exercises involved the use of a shoulder pulley – which you can make yourself but I found one on Amazon which has had great reviews and cost under £8. I found this easy to use once I found a door which I could leave closed whilst I used it.

In addition, think about what you can do to make life easier once you come home from hospital, anything you can cook and freeze in advance will be useful and don’t forget you can buy pre–prepared vegetables from the supermarket.  I was actually very surprised at the quality and variety of those available and will probably use some of them again in the future.