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Rotator cuff surgery

Preparation for rotator cuff surgery​

Before your surgery, you may be asked to stop taking certain medications or supplements. You will need to stop smoking and should tell your care team if you develop cold or flu symptoms before the procedure. You will likely be asked to stop eating and drinking the night before surgery. It is essential to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully to have the best possible surgical outcome. 

You will need to be prepared with someone to bring you to and from the surgery. The surgery itself usually lasts two hours, after which you will spend about an hour in the recovery room. Surgical and recovery times will vary. Depending on the type of surgery you receive, you may go home the same day or spend a few nights in the hospital.  


Many patients have to wear a sling to keep their shoulder stable while healing, and will also need physical therapy as part of the recovery process. Be sure to follow any of the self-care instructions you are given.  

Gradually, you’ll be able to regain shoulder function, strength, and stability while fully recovering in three to 12 months. When you are able to return to work or sports will depend on the surgery you had.


After rotator cuff surgery, most people return to their favorite activities and sports. However, surgery won’t prevent future shoulder injuries.  

You can protect your shoulder and avoid future problems by: 

  • Practicing good posture 
  • Carrying heavy objects close to your body 
  • Sleeping on the opposite side to avoid pressure on your shoulder 
  • Strengthening your shoulder muscles with recommended exercises 
  • Using proper body mechanics when lifting heavy objects 

Additionally, some rotator cuff tears will not fully heal. Unsatisfactory results may happen because: 

  • The rotator cuff was weak or torn before it was injured 
  • The rotator cuff muscles are severely weakened 
  • You do not follow post-surgical instructions 
  • You are over age 65 or smoke 
  • The tear was large 

In general, rotator cuff repair is a successful surgery in that it relieves shoulder pain. Closely following post-operative instructions will help you keep your shoulder strong and healthy and avoid reinjury. 

The information contained in this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not replace advice from your healthcare provider.