How you prepare

During the days leading up to your colon surgery, your doctor may ask that you:

  • Stop taking certain medications. Certain medications can increase your risk of complications during surgery, so your doctor may ask that you stop taking those medications before your surgery.
  • Fast before your surgery. Your doctor will give you specific instructions. You may be asked to stop eating and drinking several hours to a day before your procedure.
  • Drink a solution that clears your bowels. Your doctor may prescribe a laxative solution that you mix with water at home. You drink the solution over several hours, following the directions. The solution causes diarrhea to help empty your colon. Your doctor may also recommend enemas.
  • Take antibiotics. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to suppress the bacteria found naturally in your colon and to help prevent infection.

Preparing for colectomy isn't always possible. For instance, if you need an emergency colectomy due to bowel obstruction or bowel perforation, there may not be time to prepare.

Plan for your hospital stay

You'll spend at least a few days in the hospital after your colectomy, depending on your situation. Make arrangements for someone to take care of your responsibilities at home and at work.

Think ahead to what you might like to have with you while you're recovering in the hospital. Things you might pack include:

  • A robe and slippers
  • Toiletries, such as your toothbrush and toothpaste and, if needed, your shaving supplies
  • Comfortable clothes to wear home
  • Activities to pass the time, such as a book, magazine, computer or games
Nov. 17, 2015
  1. Patient information for laparoscopic colon resection from SAGES. Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons. Accessed July 15, 2015.
  2. Townsend CM Jr., et al. Colon and rectum. In: Sabiston Textbook of Surgery: The Biological Basis of Modern Surgical Practice. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey. Accessed July 15, 2015.
  3. Surgery for colorectal cancer. American Cancer Society. Accessed July 15, 2015.
  4. Feldman M, et al. Ileostomy, colostomy, and pouches. In: Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology, Diagnosis, Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2016. Accessed July 15, 2015.