Are you gearing up for shoulder surgery, searching for how to make life a tad easier post-op? Well, you’re in the right place! 

Your recovery will be tough, painful, and longggg. Instead of scrambling to manage everyday tasks after your surgery, you can get ahead of the game. 

I have 5 shoulder surgery recovery tips to prepare yourself and your home before surgery day arrives.

Want to watch these tips in action? Check out the YouTube video below:

If you’d rather read then keep scrolling; your future self will thank you!

Tip 1: Prepare

One of the most helpful shoulder surgery recovery tips you should do is prepare your home. It might sound obvious, but trust me, your future self will be grateful. Look around your house and take note of daily activities that heavily involve your surgical arm. 

Tasks like opening jars are going to be impossible, so why not ask someone to loosen them for you now? Or better yet, do it yourself while you still can!

Consider purchasing helpful gadgets such as this electric jar opener, an electric bottle opener, or a long handle shower brush. These items will help make your life a lot easier when you’re trying to prepare food for yourself or want to do things for yourself. 

Other things to think about are purchasing extra pillows, foam wedge pillow, or maybe it’s time to get that recliner you always wanted. 

Sleeping is difficult with shoulder surgery because you won’t be able to lay back too far.  But sleep is such a big part of your healing, recovery, and sanity. Now go make a list of preparations for cooking, bathing, sleeping- all the things.

Tip 2: Shower and hygiene

Shower right before you have surgery because you’re not going to be able to right after. Plus it could be a while before your next shower because you’re not going to be able to get your incision wet.

To at least wash your other body parts, grab yourself a handheld shower head.

Also stock up on dry shampoo and baseball hats – your post-surgery hair care essentials. I love this dry shampoo. These items are going to be necessary because you’re not going to be able to wash your hair until you can bring your hand up to your head. 

And if you are lucky enough to be able to hop in the shower, make sure your incision is properly covered. Which leads us to our next tip.

Tip 3: Incision care

Make sure that you have all of your wound care or incision care supplies before your surgery. Don’t wait until the last minute. 

The last thing you’re going to want to do is search around town or order something online that’s going to take several days to get to your house. Your discharge nurse may give you a few items to get you by for a few days. 

However, items like gauze or waterproof Tegaderm films can be game-changers. 

Tegaderm can be a great waterproof solution so you can take a shower without getting your incision wet. Just make sure it is large enough to cover your incision all the way around. 

And consider a silicone scar pad for later down the road when your incision is healed. 

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Tip 4: Getting Dressed

With a bulky dressing or post-op swelling, putting on your normal clothes might be a challenge since you won’t be able to move your arm.

I recommend purchasing or borrowing larger-sized or button-down shirts. Looser or baggier tops will be much more manageable during your shoulder surgery recovery.

For the lower body, opt for elastic waist pants and/or slip on dresses.

Check out my video on how to put on and take off a shirt safely after surgery here.

Tip 5: Practice Makes Perfect

Last but not least, practice one-handed techniques. If your dominant arm is getting the surgery, then you will want to practice your skills with your non-dominant arm for daily tasks such as hygiene when using the bathroom. 

Yes, that will be a challenge if you are only used to wiping with your dominant arm. It’s not something doctors or nurses tell you about but it’s important. 

Don’t forget other daily activities such as using your phone, buttoning shirts, washing yourself, shaving– you name it. You don’t want to wait until after surgery to adapt when you’re in pain and have other things to deal with.

Additional Shoulder Surgery Recovery Tips

And here are a couple of extra tips – stay hydrated with enough water and have high-fiber foods on hand. Pain medications may have not so desirable side effects, and these steps will help counteract them, a little.

Speaking of pain, you may want to prepare yourself with solutions other than meds.

Applying cold packs and microwavable hot packs to your shoulder can definitely take the edge off. To learn how to make your own DIY hot pack before your surgery, (I promise it’s easy!), then check out my blog post here.


As I wrap up this post on preparing for shoulder surgery and ensuring a smoother recovery, remember, a little preparation goes a long way. By taking the time to set up your home, prioritize hygiene, care for your incision, choose comfortable clothing, and practice one-handed techniques, you’re giving yourself the best chance at a comfortable and less stressful recovery.

Hopefully with these shoulder surgery recovery tips, you’ll be better equipped to work on your healing and rehabilitation. If you found this post helpful, share it with someone who might be going through the same journey.