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How to Prepare for Rotator Cuff Surgery: Everything You Need to Know

Rotator cuff surgeries have been on the rise in the United States. While surgical techniques have changed and most patients do very well, full recovery after rotator cuff repair can take 4-6 months. Your activities after surgery will be limited, too.

There are several things Dr. Razzano and his skilled team want you to know before rotator cuff surgery. But first, here’s a review of the basics.

What is the rotator cuff?

A rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that form a cuff over the shoulder joint. This cuff keeps your arm safely in the joint and able to move easily. An injury or overuse of your shoulder joint can cause the tendons to tear.

Common surgical techniques used

There are three different surgical techniques commonly used for shoulder surgery. Dr. Razzano chooses the best technique based on the condition of your shoulder and other pertinent health information.

Open repair

One large incision is made for an open repair. This type of surgery is used for large or complex tears.


This surgery uses a small lens and lighting system, known as an arthroscope, to see inside your shoulder. Dr. Razzano makes a small incision to fix the tear with this system.

Mini-open repair

In this type of surgery, any damaged tissue or bone spurs are removed or repaired using an arthroscope. A medium-sized incision is made to repair the rotator cuff.

How to prepare for rotator cuff surgery

Before your surgery, our staff at Dr. Razzano’s office needs some information from you to help make your surgery go smoothly. Here are a few things we may want to know:


We’ll need a list of all medicines you take, including prescription, over the counter, vitamins, and herbals. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications, like blood thinners.

Ask Dr. Razzano which medications you should take the day of your surgery.

Health conditions

Dr. Razzano asks you for a full health history. Common conditions you need to tell him about include diabetes and heart disease.


Let us know if you smoke because it can slow down healing in the bones and skin after surgery. You should also let him know if you drink more than two alcoholic drinks each day, as this can affect your overall health.


Being sick just before or during surgery can lead to complications. Be sure to let us know if you have a cold, flu, herpes outbreak, or other concerning changes in your health up to two weeks before your surgery.

Prepare your home

When you come home after surgery, you won’t feel your best. You’ll have some pain and need to wear a sling for a few weeks. You may move a bit slowly after surgery and will be limited in the things you can do around your house. Here are few things you can do to prepare your home:

  • Prepare meals ahead for 1-2 weeks and freeze them in containers. Buy easy-to-make or ready-to-eat foods like salads, cereals, fruits, and nuts.
  • Practice doing daily self-care tasks like brushing your teeth or fixing your breakfast with one arm before surgery. You may feel silly doing it, but this will be a handy skill to have after surgery.
  • If you don’t have grab bars in your shower, consider installing them before surgery so they can help you maintain your balance while showering. A detachable shower head works great when you are limited to only one hand, too.
  • Have plenty of clean easy-to-wear clothing ready for after surgery. Break out the sweatpants, t-shirts, and slip-on shoes.
  • After surgery ice will be your friend. Buy plenty of ice packs or consider buying or renting an electric ice pack. Your insurance may even cover this, so be sure to check with Dr. Razzano’s staff.
  • You may find that sleeping in bed is not comfortable for the first few weeks. Some patients sleep in recliners as the upright position puts less pressure on the shoulder. If you don’t have a recliner, consider borrowing one from a friend or family member.

Dr. Razzano specializes in surgeries of the shoulder and does everything he can to prepare you for your surgery and recovery period.  If you have questions before your shoulder surgery, give our office a call any time or book by clicking the “schedule appointment” button at the top of the webpage.