Home Care after a Bowel Resection
The diseased part of the large (colon) or small bowel is removed. The two healthy ends are sewn
or stapled back together and the incision is closed.
ξ Look at your incision daily. A normal wound is puffy, pink, may have a clear pink drainage, may
be numb and bruised and will form scabs. It is normal for the incision to be pink near the staple.
Signs of infection are:
○ Wound is more red or warm to touch each day
○ Red or pink color spreads beyond the incision site
○ Pus-like drainage
○ Excess swelling or bleeding
○ Temperature (by mouth) more than 100.4º F for 2 readings, 4 hours apart
○ Pain not controlled by pain pills
ξ When you can get your wound wet, you may shower and wash it with a mild soap and water.
Pat it dry. Do not soak in a bathtub, hot tub or swim until incision is healed, this may be at
least 2 weeks. Do not use lotion, powder or ointment on your wound unless ordered by your
ξ If you have tape strips on your wound, allow them to fall off on their own. If they begin to
fray, you may trim them with a scissors.
ξ You do not need to wear a dressing on your wound unless it rubs on your clothes, drains or it
is in a skin fold. If you wear a dressing, change it at least everyday and more often if it gets
ξ It is normal to have a healing ridge over your incision.
For 6 weeks after surgery you will have an increased number of bowel movements per day. They
will be loose, this is normal. As your body heals and your diet has more fiber you will have
fewer, more formed bowel movements. If a section of your large bowel is removed, you may
have problems with constipation if you are taking pain pills and adding more fiber to your diet. It
is important to also add more fluid to your diet to help prevent these problems. Be sure to drink
8-10 eight ounce glasses of fluid (without caffeine it in) every day.
It is normal to have some pain in the surgical area. Pain pills will be ordered for you.
ξ Lifting Restrictions:
o For open surgery: Do not lift more than 10 pounds for 6 weeks.
o For laparoscopic surgery: Do not lift more than 10 pounds for 3 weeks, then no
more than 20 pounds until 6 weeks after surgery.
ξ No strenuous activity until you doctor says it is okay. Walking is fine and is an important
part of your recovery.
ξ Check with your doctor before going back to work.
ξ Resume sex when you feel ready, this may not be for 2 to 3 weeks.
ξ Ask your doctor when you may drive. If you are taking narcotic pain pills you may not
ξ It may take 2-3 months for you to feel like yourself again.
Low Residue Diet
You will be on a low fiber and residue diet for 2 weeks after surgery. At your first post op
follow-up appointment we will talk with you about your diet and when to start a general diet.
See HFFY 381 Low Fiber and Residue Diet.
When to Call the Doctor
ξ Incision is more red or warm to touch
ξ Pus-like drainage
ξ Excess swelling or bleeding
ξ Temperature (by mouth) above 100.4º F for 2 readings taken 4 hours apart.
ξ Pain not controlled with pain pills
ξ Severe abdominal pain
ξ Nausea or vomiting
Digestive Health Center: (608) 890-5010 Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm
After hours, weekends or holidays this number will be answered by the paging operator.
Ask for the doctor on call for Dr. ________________. Leave your name and phone number with
area code. The doctor will call you back.
If you live out of the area, call (855) 342-9900.
Your health care team may have given you this information as part of your care. If so, please use it and call if you have
any questions. If this information was not given to you as part of your care, please check with your doctor. This is not
medical advice. This is not to be used for diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Because each person’s health
needs are different, you should talk with your doctor or others on your health care team when using this information. If
you have an emergency, please call 911. Copyright © 6/2015 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority.
All Rights Reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#4430