Colorectal Surgery: Long-Term Care

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Colorectal surgery is used to address a number of conditions like cancer, bowel obstructions, infection, and more. In some cases, these fixes are permanent—for others, they are not. Find out what to expect in the long-run after your colorectal surgery.

Lifestyle Changes Following Colorectal Surgery

Brianna Gilmartin / Verywell

Benefits of Surgery

Ideally, after colorectal surgery, the problem you had has been resolved. In cases where tissue was removed for a noncancerous problem, your surgery—if you have no complications—may be the permanent solution. If your surgery was done to treat cancer, surgery may provide either a total cure or a step in the treatment process.

Many times, there are bowel problems or discomfort from the conditions that require colorectal surgery. In most cases, these issues are resolved, but you may still experience some issues with gastrointestinal problems for at least a period of time after your surgery.

Possible Further Surgeries

There are a few reasons you could need additional surgeries after colorectal surgery.

When you have abdominal surgery, you run the risk of developing adhesions. This happens when healing tissue attaches in places where it doesn’t belong. This may cause you problems down the road and require surgical intervention.

Leakage or infection is common in bowel surgeries. If body fluids leak from where tissue was reattached, your surgeon may have to perform another surgery to repair this leak and prevent major infection.

If you had a stoma placed during your colorectal surgery, you may have to have additional procedures in the future. A stoma—a surgical hole that is made on the outside of the body for fluids and wastes to exit—is usually made when tissues on either side of the removed section cannot be reattached for some reason.

In some cases, ostomies can be reversed or amended at some point, but that will be up to your surgeon.

There are many conditions that might require colorectal surgery that cannot be cured, such as diverticulitis and Crohn’s disease. These conditions may continue after surgery, and may or may not require additional procedures. Make sure to follow-up with your healthcare provider on how to prevent additional surgeries.

Call your healthcare provider or 911 if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Generally, a healthy lifestyle is key to maintaining your health after colorectal surgery. In particular, you should be sure to do the following:

  • Maintain a good bowel regimen.
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, and other sources of fiber.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Stay active and exercise regularly.
  • Maintain whatever diet limitations or restrictions your healthcare provider recommends based on your specific condition.

A Word From Verywell

After a major surgery such as a colorectal procedure, it can take time to adjust to your new normal. Be sure to learn as much as you can about your condition, and advocate for yourself with your medical team to get the best care.

Always bring up any concerns or questions that you have, as this can help prevent complications or have them addressed as soon as possible. This can help give you the best outcome from your surgery.

1 Source
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. University of Michigan Medicine. Bowel resection.

By Rachael Zimlich, BSN, RN
Rachael is a freelance healthcare writer and critical care nurse based near Cleveland, Ohio.