You want the best possible outcome. So does your surgeon. That’s why it’s important that you do your part by following your surgeon’s instructions prior to your procedure. And consider doing the following to help set yourself up for success1:
Your doctor may recommend additional things to help you prepare for colorectal surgery, such as adjusting your medications, taking antibiotics, cleansing your bowel or other treatments specific to your colorectal disease.2
While specific post-surgery practices vary by individual, most patients will be able to eat, drink, and move around the first day after surgery. Movement is important after surgery to reduce things such as blood clots, fluid in your lungs or pneumonia. So, soon after surgery, you can expect to sit in a chair and take short walks in the hospital hallway.3
Following colorectal laparoscopic surgery, the average hospital stay is 6.5 days and normal activities usually resume within 1 to 2 weeks. With open surgery, the average hospital stay is 9 days and typically 6 weeks of recovery.4-19
During your recovery from colorectal surgery at home, you may need a caregiver to assist you with household duties and transportation. Your doctor will explain what you should and should not do such as20:
Your hospital discharge instructions will include guidance on what to eat. Eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fluids help the healing process. If you have any questions about food “dos and don’ts,” contact your doctor.
Regardless of the type of procedure, complications can arise after surgery and cause a variety of reactions. If you experience any of the following, call your doctor2:
Your healthcare team will continue to monitor your progress both during and after your recovery period from surgery. Follow up care typically includes physical exams and to watch for disease recurrence, manage any side effects, and track your overall physical health.
An ostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an opening from inside the body to the outside. The opening is called a stoma to which a bag is attached allowing stool and gas to exit the body. If you have an ostomy, your ostomy nurse will show you how to care for it before you leave the hospital. Here are few basics21:
If you have any of the following, call your stoma nurse or doctor21:
You are probably wondering about clothing and if the bag is visible beneath it. You may be surprised to learn that many ostomy pouches are fairly flat and, therefore, are not noticeable under clothing. Snug undergarments also help conceal bags. So wear what you normally do — no special garments are necessary.21
As for your ostomy supplies, they are easily obtained online from your local pharmacy, or medical supply store. Your stoma nurse will help you line up pouches, skin barriers, and other products. You’ll want to order supplies a few weeks before you run out, but don’t stockpile because they can be ruined by temperature changes and moisture.21
It is important to talk to your surgeon and primary care doctors about what to expect in the days and weeks ahead.
Gustafsson UO, Scott MJ, Hubner M, et al. Guidelines for perioperative care in elective colorectal surgery: Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS®) society recommendations: 2018. World J Surgery, vol. 43, no. 3, 13 Nov. 2018, 659–695, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00268-018-4844-y, 10.1007/s00268-018-4844-y. Accessed April 5, 2022.
Laparoscopic Colon Resection Patient Information from SAGES. SAGES. https://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-laparoscopic-colon-resection-from-sages Accessed March 25, 2022.
American College of Surgeons. Surgical Patient Education. Colectomy: surgical removal of the colon. ACS. https://www.facs.org/-/media/files/education/patient-ed/colectomy.ashx Accessed April 5, 2022.
Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) Webmaster. Laparoscopic colon resection surgery patient information from SAGES. SAGES. https://www.sages.org/publications/patient-information/patient-information-for-laparoscopic-colon-resection-from-sages/. Updated March 1, 2015. Accessed Jan. 10, 2017.
Fitch K, Engel T, Bochner A. Cost differences between open minimally invasive surgery. Manag Care. 2015;24(9):40-48.
Veldkamp R, Kuhry E, Hop WC, et al. Laparoscopic surgery versus open surgery for colon cancer: short-term outcomes of a randomised trial. Lancet Oncol. 2005;6(7):477-484.
Juo YY, Hyder O, Haider AH, Camp M, Lidor A, Ahuja N. Is minimally invasive colon resection better than traditional approaches?: First comprehensive national examination with propensity score matching. JAMA Surg. 2014;149(2):177-184.
Orcutt ST, Marshall CL, Robinson CN, et al. Minimally invasive surgery in colon cancer patients leads to improved short-term outcomes and excellent oncologic results. Am J Surg. 2011;202(5):528-531.
Steele SR, Brown TA, Rush RM, Martin MJ. Laparoscopic vs. open colectomy for colon cancer: results from a large nationwide population-based analysis. J Gastrointest Surg. 2008;12(3):583-591.
Odermatt M, Miskovic D, Siddiqi N, Khan J, Parvaiz A. Short- and long-term outcomes after laparoscopic versus open emergency resection for colon cancer: an observational propensity score-matched study. World J Surg. 2013;37(10):2458-2467.
Prakash K, Varma D, Rajan M, et al. Laparoscopic colonic resection for rectosigmoid colonic tumors: a retrospective analysis and comparison with open resection. Indian J Surg. 2010;72(4):318-322.
Chen K, Zhang Z, Zuo Y, Ren S. Comparison of the clinical outcomes of laparoscopic-assisted versus open surgery for colorectal cancer. Oncol Lett. 2014;7(4):1213-1218.
Hardy KM, Kwong J, Pitzul KB, et al. A cost comparison of laparoscopic and open colon surgery in a publicly funded academic institution. Surg Endosc. 2014;28(4):1213-1222.
Thompson BS, Coory MD, Gordon LG, Lumley JW. Cost savings for elective laparoscopic resection compared with open resection for colorectal cancer in a region of high uptake. Surg Endosc. 2014;28(5):1515-1521.
Marshall CL, Chen GJ, Robinson CN, et al. Establishment of a minimally invasive surgery program leads to decreased inpatient cost of care in veterans with colon cancer. Am J Surg. 2010;200(5):632-635.
da Luz Moreira A, Kiran RP, Kirat HT, et al. Laparoscopic versus open colectomy for patients with American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) classifications 3 and 4: the minimally invasive approach is associated with significantly quicker recovery and reduced costs. Surg Endosc. 2010;24(6):1280-1286.
Day AR, Smith RV, Jourdan IC, Rockall TA. Survival following laparoscopic and open colorectal surgery. Surg Endosc. 2013;27(7):2415-2421.
Kapritsou M, Korkolis DP, Konstantinou EA. Open or laparoscopic surgery for colorectal cancer: a retrospective comparative study. Gastroenterol Nurs. 2013;36(1):37-41.
Agarwal S, Gincherman M, Birnbaum E, Fleshman JW, Mutch M. Comparison of long-term follow up of laparoscopic versus open colectomy for transverse colon cancer. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2015;28(3):296-299.
Surgical Procedures: Colectomy | OncoLink. www.oncolink.org. https://www.oncolink.org/cancers/gastrointestinal/colon-cancer/treatments/colectomy Accessed April 5, 2022.
American Cancer Society. Caring for a colostomy. www.cancer.org. Published October 16, 2019. https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/treatment-types/surgery/ostomies/colostomy/management.html Accessed April 5, 2022.
Colon and rectal cancer follow-up care expanded version | ASCRS. fascrs.org. https://fascrs.org/patients/diseases-and-conditions/a-z/colon-and-rectal-cancer-follow-up-care-expanded-ve. Accessed April 14, 2022.