Rice, 23, revealed the operation on her official Twitter feed, describing it as an "arthroscopy on my right shoulder which had a small tear in the tendon".
"Everything else was ok and should be back in the water before Christmas," she said.
"Surgery went really well. Surprised with how much movement I've already got back in my shoulder," added Rice, saying she was trying to keep positive.
The Beijing 2008 triple gold-medallist now has just three months to find top form, with Australia's London Olympic swimming trials scheduled for March.
It is the same shoulder that required surgery last year, forcing her to withdraw from the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships and the Delhi Commonwealth Games.
Rice became the pin-up girl of Australian swimming after her Beijing blitz, which equalled the record Australian individual haul for a single Olympics held by athlete Betty Cuthbert and swimmers Shane Gould and Ian Thorpe.
But the intervening years have been a struggle for the one-time golden girl, with a disappointing season in 2009 and the 2010 surgery keeping her from the pool for several months.
Rice won two bronze medals in the individual medley and medley relay at the July World Championships in Shanghai, her first major international meet since 2009, but failed to take a medal in her other individual events.
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