You had surgery to remove all or part of your large intestine (large bowel). You may also have had a colostomy.
What to Expect at Home
You may have these problems after you return home from the hospital:
Pain when you cough, sneeze, and make sudden movements. This may last up to several weeks.
Hard stools, or you may not be able to have a bowel movement at all.
You may have diarrhea.
You may have problems with your colostomy.
It may take several weeks for you to get back to your normal activities. Ask your doctor if there are activities you should not do.
Start by taking short walks.
Increase your activity slowly. DO NOT push yourself too hard.
Your doctor will give you pain medicines to take at home.
If you are taking pain medicines 3 or 4 times a day, take them at the same times each day for 3 to 4 days. They control pain better this way.
DO NOT drive or use other heavy machines if you are taking narcotic pain medicines. These medicines may make you drowsy and slow your reaction time.
Try getting up and moving around if you are having pain in your belly.
Press a pillow over your incision when you need to cough or sneeze. This helps ease pain.
Ask your doctor when you should start taking the medicines you stopped before surgery.
If your staples have been removed, you will probably have Steri-Strips (small pieces of tape) placed across your incision. These pieces of tape will fall off on their own. If your incision was closed with a dissolving suture, you may have had a liquid glue covering the incision. This glue will loosen and can be peeled off after a few weeks.
Ask your health care provider when you can shower or soak in a bathtub.
It is ok if the Steri-Strips get wet. DO NOT soak or scrub them.
Keep your wound dry at all other times.
The Steri-Strips will fall off on their own after a week or two.
Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, General Surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.