Steps to Take to Recover from Colorectal Surgery

Colorectal surgery is a field in medicine dealing with disorders of the rectum, anus and colon. This can be anywhere from inflammatory bowel disease to treating a prolapsed rectum, haemorrhoids or even bowel cancer.

In most cases, a diagnostic colonoscopy is necessary prior to colorectal surgery. In order for the surgeon to obtain a clear view of the entire large intestine, bowel cleansing is started 24 hours prior to the procedure and patients should remain on clear fluids from that time until around three hours before their colonoscopy.

Surgery is generally performed using minimally invasive techniques also called laparoscopic (or keyhole) procedures.  They may vary from limited bowel resection (laparoscopic right hemicolectomy, laparoscopic high anterior resection) right through extensive removal of the large intestine (laparoscopic total colectomy). Resection of haemorrhoids is much simpler and is generally carried out as a day stay procedure.

Once surgery is completed, there will be a recovery period where it may take some time before your bowel movements return to normal. Everyone is different; some patients find their bowel movements stay regular whereas others may take few days before they have their first one. One of the most important things you can do for your recovery is to drink lots of water. Staying hydrated will help keep your stools soft so that you can pass them more easily, reducing discomfort.

Depending on your procedure, you may be required to stay in hospital anywhere from 1-7 days. During this time your doctor will allocate you the appropriate pain medication, as it is important to stay on top of it so that you can get back on your feet as soon as possible.

You will also be given a course of antibiotics and it is crucial that you take them until completion to lessen the risk of infection.

The key advantages of undergoing colorectal surgery using a minimally invasive technique include faster recovery, reduced postoperative pain and risk of complications, shorter hospitalization, quicker return to work and normal physical activities, as well as improved cosmetic due to significantly smaller incisions.

Based in Sydney, Prof Chris Berney is a general/gastrointestinal surgeon, specialising in advanced laparoscopic procedures and is one of the leading surgeons in his field. If you have any questions regarding any colorectal surgery, contact us today.