Your doctor will tell you when to start cleaning your wound with soap and water every day. When you do this, look carefully for any changes to the wound.
Pat your wound dry. Do not rub it dry.
Do not put any lotion, cream, or herbal remedy on your wound before asking your doctor if is okay.
Do not wear tight clothing that rubs against the site of the surgery while it is healing. Use thin gauze over the wound to protect it, if needed.
If you have a colostomy, follow your doctor’s care instructions.
Sitting on a pillow may help with pain if the surgery was in your rectum.
Eat small amounts of food 5 to 8 times a day. Do not eat 3 big meals.
Space out your small meals. Wait the same amount of time between each one.
Add new foods back into your diet slowly--one or two at a time.
Try to eat plenty of protein.
Some foods may cause gas, loose stools, or constipation as you recover. Avoid foods that cause problems.
If you become sick to your stomach or have diarrhea, avoid solid foods and drinking only clear fluids and for a little while. Call your doctor.
Call your doctor if you have severe diarrhea.
Drink plenty of water or fruit juice to keep enough fluid in your body.
Returning to Work
Return to work only when you feel ready to. These tips may help:
You may be ready when you can be active around the house for 8 hours and still feel okay when you wake up the next morning.
You may want to start back part-time and on light duty at first.
Your doctor can write a letter to limit your work activities if you do heavy labor.
When to Call the Doctor
Call your doctor if:
You have a fever over 101 °F, or a fever that does not go away with acetaminophen(Tylenol).
Your belly is swollen.
You feel sick to your stomach. Or, you are throwing up a lot and cannot keep food down.
You have not had a bowel movement 4 days after leaving the hospital.
You have been having bowel movements, and they suddenly stop.
You have black or tarry stools, or there is blood in your stools.
You are having belly pain that is getting worse, and pain medicines are not helping.
Your colostomy has stopped putting out any water or stools for a few days.
Your abdomen gets swollen and you are throwing up.
There are changes in your surgery:
The edges are pulling apart
Green or yellow drainage is coming from it.
It is redder, warm, swelling, or more painful.
Your bandage is soaked with blood.
You are short of breath or are having chest pain.
Your legs are swelling.
You have pain in your calves.
You have increased drainage from your rectum.
You have a feeling of heaviness in your rectal area.
Fry RD, Mahmoud N, Maron DJ, Ross HM, Rombeau J. Coln and rectum. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012:chap 52.
Robert A. Cowles, MD, Associate Professor of Surgery, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.