You are required to undergone a bowel preparation the day prior to surgery. The bowel preparation includes taking two medications for nausea before beginning the cleansing. You will then begin by taking 1.5 ounces of Fleet Phospho-Soda, followed by six glasses of clear liquid, and then another 1.5 ounces of Fleet Phospho-Soda. The taste of Fleet Phospho-Soda is not pleasant, but can be improved by mixing it with a carbonated drink. Choosing your favorite drink is a bad idea, because it will soon become your least favorite drink. You will then finish by taking two separate antibiotic pills as instructed to help reduce the bacterial count in the colon. You will be maintained on a clear liquid diet for the entire day prior to surgery, and then be asked to refrain from eating or drinking after midnight. You will be instructed regarding your usual medications.
During the hospitalization, you will be given a narcotic via a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) pump for pain control. This will enable you to administer your own pain medication as you need it. You will eventually be converted to oral pain pills before discharge. You will likely require a narcotic for intermittent pain control for a few weeks after surgery. It will take weeks to months for all the aches and pains associated with the incision to resolve.
You will likely have clear adhesive dressings covering each incision after laparoscopic colon surgery. These dressings should remain in place, and I will remove them at your follow-up visit. You may shower over these waterproof dressings, but do not bathe or swim. If you notice any redness or drainage from your wound, you should call the office.
You may slowly resume your regular activities as your strength allows. You may begin driving once you are no longer requiring narcotic pain medication, which usually takes a few weeks after discharge. You should avoid lifting greater than 10 pounds for four weeks following surgery. Most patients will require 3-4 weeks of additional recovery after discharge prior to returning to work.
No restrictions, but you should not consume a large quantity of spicy or fried foods right away. Give your body a chance to adjust. Chew your food well, and avoid foods that are difficult to digest. In general, you should use your common sense regarding your diet.
You should anticipate remaining in the hospital for approximately 4-5 days after surgery (average range 3-6 days). After leaving the hospital following colon surgery, you will undoubtedly feel fatigued. Most patients find themselves napping in the afternoons. This generally lasts a few weeks after surgery. Your appetite will slowly return to normal. Initially, your bowel movements may be looser than usual, but they should resume their normal consistency with time. This, however, will depend on how much and which side of the colon was removed at surgery. Remember, healing takes time, and it is best to be patient.
You should follow up for a post-operative visit approximately two weeks after discharge. If you still have staples in place, you may be asked to follow-up sooner for staple removal.