What happens after the procedure
After the operation the nursing staff will closely watch you until you have recovered form the anaesthetic. You may even be cared for in the intensive care unit immediatly following your surgery. The recovery period after colon surgery varies. It usually involves a stay in the hospital from 3-10 days in uncomplicated cases. On return from your surgery you will have a catheter (plastic tube) to measure and drain your urine. After surgery you will be given intravenous fluids (a drip) through which antibiotics may be given. The drip will remain in place until you are able to drink enough fluids.]
During the first few days of recovery, you will not be able to eat, until the bowel has begun to work again. You know the bowel has started to work again once you pass wind and/or have a bowel movement. You will then begin to take fluids by mouth and then solid food.
If you have a colostomy
The colostomy drains bowel waste from the bowel into the colostomy bag. Most colostomy waste is softer and more liquid than normal passed bowel waste. The thickness of the bowel waste depends on where the stoma is. You will be taught how to clean around the colostomy and change the colostomy bag.. The colostomy bag sticks to the skin around the stoma with special glue, and can be thrown away when dirty. This bag does not show under clothing and most people learn to take care of these bags themselves.
Your wound will have stitches and/or staples and is usually covered with a dressing, which may be adhesive plaster or a spray-on plastic covering.
You may also have a small tube that drains into a bottle or a bag from near your wound. This is called a drain. The wound drain removes fluid from your wound and helps with the healing process. It is taken out when the drainage has dried up.
Your lungs and blood supply
It is likely that on your return from surgery you will be wearing elastic (anti-embolism) stockings. These are tight fitting stockings that are used to reduce the risk of blood clots forming in your legs. It is very important that after surgery you start moving as soon as possible. This helps to prevent blood clots forming in your legs and possibly going into your lungs. This can be fatal.
Also you need to do your deep breathing exercises. Take ten deep breaths every hour to prevent secretions collecting in the lungs. If this happens you may develop a chest infection. At all costs, avoid smoking after surgery as this increases your risk of chest infection. Coughing is painful after abdominal surgery.
Expect to feel tired for some time after surgery. You need to take things easy and gradually return to normal duties, as you feel able to. It usually takes at least 6 months to get over the operation. You should not drive during the first 2-3 weeks. Do not lift heavy weights for at least 6 weeks after surgery. This is to prevent a rupture where the cuts were made and allow healing to take place inside.