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Shoulder narrowing is an effective surgery done by removing a portion of the clavicle bone. Shortening the length of the clavicle, even though it is not a perfectly straight horizontal bone, achieves its effect by pulling the shoulders inward.

Shoulder narrowing is an interesting surgery in several aspects. It is most unique from a recovery standpoint because it affects both arms. When performed on both sides, which is how it is most commonly done and preferred by most patients, there will be range of motion limitations of both arms for up to a month after the surgery. For this reason preoperative education is paramount to ensure that the patient has taken adequate preparations for the recovery process.

On an equally interesting note is that the effects of shoulder narrowing surgery are immediate. Because the surgery is done on the opposite end of the clavicle from where the effects are seen, the benefits of the surgery are instantaneous. While there will be swelling around the surgery site at the inner third of the clavicle, no such swelling occurs out over the outer shoulder or deltoid muscle.

While these is no swelling that occurs at the intended target site (outer shoulder), there are going to be some temporary shoulder shape effects. Initially the shoulders will look a bit hunched in or rolled forward, an effect that occurs because of the desired postoperative arm positioning. But as one recovers and feels more comfortable and the arms resume a normal range of motion this rolled in effect disappears.     

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana

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