You will usually be in hospital either for a day or overnight. The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and a nerve block in your neck or upper chest that will make your arm 'dead' for 8-12 hours after surgery. This is for post-operative pain relief. After this your shoulder may well be sore and you will be given painkillers to help this. Ice packs may also help reduce pain. Wrap crushed ice or frozen peas in a damp, cold cloth and place on the shoulder for up to 20 minutes.
You will return from theatre wearing a sling. Your arm will remain in a special sling for four weeks. This means that you will be unable to use your arm throughout this time and will be unable to return to work. You will not be allowed to drive for 5-6 weeks after surgery.
The shoulder must remain immobilised with a sling and a body belt for four weeks. You should remove the sling for exercises only.
Your consultant or physiotherapist will see you prior to discharge and you will be taught exercises to do and given further advice to guide you through your recovery.
For keyhole surgery, there may be no stitches (or only one absorbable stitch in the front wound) and only small sticking plaster strips over the wounds. These should be kept dry until healed. This usually takes 5-7 days.
With open stabilisation there is an incision at the front of the armpit within the natural skin crease. The stitch is dissolvable but is usually removed at 2-3 weeks. The wound should be kept dry until it is well healed.
The length of time that you will be off work will depend on your job but expect a minimum of six weeks for active job.
Your physiotherapist and surgeon will advise you when it is safe to resume your leisure activities. However, you will NOT be able to return to contact sports before six months after surgery.