What Should I Do after a Bowel Resection?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2020
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A bowel resection is a medical procedure in which the diseased portion of the colon is removed and the healthy ends of the colon are reattached to one another. Proper care should be taken afterward in order to lessen the chance of developing severe complications following the procedure. Post-operative care after a bowel resection often includes the use of prescription medications, proper wound care, and lifestyle and dietary modifications. It is normal for the patient to remain in the hospital for several days after a bowel resection.

While recovering from the surgery, the patient will be given pain medications through a small tube, known as an IV, which is inserted into a vein prior to the procedure. Antibiotics may be given in this manner after a bowel resection as well. The IV is typically left in the vein until the patient is able to successfully tolerate solid foods, as fluids will be introduced into the body through this tube. As soon as the patient is determined to be stable following the procedure, he will be moved into a hospital room for further monitoring and evaluation.


The patient will not be allowed to have anything to eat or drink until after the medical staff is certain that the bowels are functioning properly, usually after a bowel movement has occurred. Liquids are then introduced, followed by a slow progression to solid foods as tolerated by the patient. In most cases, the patient is encouraged to get out of bed and move around on the same day as the surgery. This helps bowel habits to return to normal after a bowel resection.

The medical staff will provide the patient with detailed instructions on what to do when at home after a bowel resection. Pain medications may be needed for a while after the patient returns home, although over-the-counter pain relievers often provide sufficient pain relief. Dietary changes are typically recommended, including adding extra fiber and water. The patient should avoid any lifting until cleared by the doctor to do so.

Complications are rare after a bowel resection, but any questions or concerns should be discussed with a doctor. If the surgical wound becomes red or warm to the touch, a doctor should be notified. The patient should also report symptoms such as increased pain levels, pus draining from the site of the incision, or an elevated temperature. These could be signs of a potential infection and need to be medically addressed right away.


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