Discharge Instructions for Total Abdominal Colectomy

A total abdominal colectomy is surgery to remove your colon. Your colon, also called the large intestine, is part of your bowel. A colectomy is done to remove disease, such as cancer, polyps, and inflammatory bowel disease, and to relieve the symptoms you have been having, such as bleeding, blockage, and pain.


  • Ask your friends and family to help with chores and errands while you recover.

  • Walk on a regular basis. Start with short walks each day. Gradually increase the distance you walk and how often you walk.

  • Don’t lift anything heavier than 10 pounds for the first 6 weeks after your surgery.

  • Don’t drive for 2 weeks after surgery or as directed by your doctor. Don’t drive while you are taking prescription pain medicine.

  • Ask your doctor when you can expect to return to work. Most people are able to return to work within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Other home care

  • Diarrhea or loose stools are common after surgery, and can last weeks to months. If you have watery, or bloody diarrhea, call your surgeon. This may be a sign of a bowel infection or other problem.

  • Follow the diet prescribed for you in the hospital. Slowly add foods until you get back to your regular diet. If a food gives you stomach or bowel problems, avoid it for a while.

  • Initially, you may be on a low fiber diet. After this, adding fiber can help with the diarrhea. If it is severe, your doctor may add a medicine for the diarrhea as well.

  • You may use pain medicine as directed by your provider. Discuss your best option before leaving the hospital and at your post operative visit.

  • Use nutritional supplements or shakes as directed by your doctor.

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day, unless directed otherwise. It's very important to avoid dehydration, especially if you have an ostomy (a bag that collects stool) or diarrhea. 

  • Take your medicines exactly as directed. Don’t skip doses.

  • Shower or bathe as directed by your healthcare provider. Gently wash your incision with soap and water and pat dry.

  • Avoid tub baths until the staples in your incision have been removed.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment as directed by our staff.


When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following:

  • Fever of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or as directed by your healthcare provider

  • Diarrhea that lasts more than 3 days

  • Nausea and vomiting that won’t go away

  • Pain in your abdomen that gets worse or isn’t relieved by pain medicine

  • Drainage or redness around your incision

  • Bright red or dark black stools