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What to Expect from Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery


Prior to Surgery

  • Talk to your doctor about any medications/vitamins/herbs you are taking as you may need to stop certain ones before surgery.
  • Stop taking aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), clopidogrel (Plavix), warfarin (Coumadin) and other blood thinners one week prior to the procedure.
  • Discontinue any diet medications or St. John’s Wort two weeks before the procedure.
  • Discuss any possible bleeding disorders or other medical conditions that you may have
  • Patients complete a bowel prep that will remove all waste from the region. This may include an enema, a beverage that will clean the bowels and a liquid diet for eight hours prior to surgery.
  • You will have blood samples taken in case you need a blood transfusion.

On the Day of Surgery

  • Follow the instructions provided by your gastroenterologist.
  • Take the drugs your doctor told you to take with a small sip of water.
  • Your doctor or nurse will tell you when to arrive at the hospital.

After the Procedure

  • Most patients will remain in the hospital for three to five days following surgery.
  • You may have some fullness, gas and mild cramping for the next 24 hours. This will improve over time.
  • You may have tubes to drain your stomach and to empty your bladder.
  • IV fluids will be given until you can eat solid foods. Most likely you will start with liquids on the second day after surgery and then advance to soft foods.
  • You may also be connected to a pump that gives you control over administration of pain medications.
  • You will be encouraged to walk as soon as possible as this will help reduce the risk of lung infection or blood clots and will aid in overall recovery.

Recovery: what to expect in the next few weeks

You will feel weak after this surgery, and it will take several weeks for a full recovery. Take it easy, and give your body time to heal. You will need to restrict some activities, including walking up stairs or climbing, lifting heavy objects and participating in water-based sports. You will be able to return to work – on light duty – after two weeks. If your job requires lifting, you will need to refrain from those activities for six weeks.

Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery Q&A

Below, find answers to commonly asked questions. Click each item to expand the Q&A for each section.

The Procedure

Q: What does the procedure involve?

Under general anesthesia, the gastroenterologist will make three to five tiny incisions – normally less than ¼ inch - in the lower abdomen. Gas is introduced to clear the region to help provide a better visual field for the procedure. A small endoscope is inserted in one of the incisions that will be used to show the area on a TV monitor.

Instruments to remove diseased sections in the colon or to remove growths or tumors are done through the other incisions. In some cases, a slightly longer incision may be needed if a large section of the colon needs to be removed.


Q: How many incisions are made?

Three to five ¼-inch incisions are made in the lower abdomen.

Hospital Stay

Q: How long will I stay in the hospital?

Patients are usually hospitalized for three to five days.

Recovery Time

Q: What is the recovery time?

Full recovery takes several weeks. There are activity restrictions, including no heavy lifting or working at a physically demanding job for up to six weeks. If you have a desk job, you may be able to return to work in two weeks, but your doctor will recommend what is best for you based on how you feel.