Post-Operative Bowel Care

After your surgery some patients experience a change in their bowel habits. This can be related to the anesthesia, post-operative immobility, and to some of the medications (particularly pain medication). This is usually benign and will return to normal with treatment, but below is what to look for.

Post-Op Bowel Function

We take bowel care very seriously. Here are some things to look for and monitor:

  • If you are passing gas, your bowels likely still just need time to recover from the shock of not eating around surgery, having surgery, using narcotics and getting less than your usual exercise. Some simple strategies outlined to the right likely will be able to help you with your constipation.
  • If you stop passing gas, there is a risk of having a small bowel obstruction, particularly if it has been several days since your last bowel movement.
    • Additional symptoms include:
      • vomiting
      • nausea
      • severe crampy abdominal pain
      • severe abdominal distention
    • If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you should seek urgent medical attention

Managing Constipation

General Guidelines:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Eat fiber rich foods (veggies, prunes, fruits, oats etc...).
  • Avoid heavy solid foods until your bowels return to normal.
  • Move as much as possible. This does not mean overdoing exercises, however, getting off the couch or bed is important for your recovery and can help constipation.
  • Wean down from your pain medications. Pain medications are notorious for slowing your bowel function.
  • Consider drinking prune juice.

Medications can be tried if the general recommedations are not working. Read the instructions carefully and take only as directed. Consult a pharmacist if there are questions or concerns. Below are some common medications for constipation:

  • Milk of Magnesia
  • Miralax
  • Benefiber, Metamucil
  • Colace
  • Dulcolax
  • Senokot