Going through colorectal surgery is a complex process. Not only do you have to prepare for your surgery, but you also have to recover after your procedure. Although it’s very important to follow your doctor’s exact instructions because every individual is different, the following are some of the norms for the post surgery recovery process.

The First Few Days

Normally after surgery you’ll be kept in the hospital for a few days. Most of the time you are allowed to begin drinking liquids the morning after surgery. After you’ve had a bowel movement you can start to eat solid food again.

Occasionally patients will feel nauseous or start to vomit. If this happens, they will have the nasogastric tube present during surgery reinserted. Should this happen to you, don’t be alarmed. Nausea and vomiting are common side effects of colorectal surgery. This happens because the anesthesia used during surgery may cause your intestines to become temporarily disabled. To help combat this, your food and liquid intake is closely monitored.  


Most of the time, your surgeon will encourage you to get out of the bed the first day after surgery. The more you move around, the less at risk you will be for complications such as blood clots and pneumonia.

Your surgeon will also suggest that you slowly increase your level of physical activity once you return home. Walking is a great way to slowly strengthen your muscles and keep your blood circulating to avoid blood clots. If you exercised consistently before your surgery, you can slowly return to the habit once you feel comfortable. It’s a good idea, however, to avoid heavy exercise such as lifting and abdominal exercises for the first six weeks.

Healthy Eating at Home

Colorectal surgery changes the way the bowel functions. These changes may or may not be temporary. Surgery could cause swelling in the bowel. Food may pass more slowly through the colon, which leads to bloating. Changes in the way your bowel functions may lead to loose, watery stools.

After surgery, you should stick to a soft diet. A soft diet includes almost everything except for raw fruits and vegetables. A dietician can give you more specific information and guidelines. You should follow this diet at least until your first follow-up visit with you doctor.

Remember, every individual and their reaction to surgery is different. These are good guidelines to start with, but you should still consult your surgeon for further advice.