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Patients & Visitors


Going Home

Hospital stays can vary from 3-5 days for keyhole surgery and from 7-14 days for more complicated open surgery.

We do not let you go home until you are competent at looking after your stoma.

Day to Day Activities

Illness unsettles your lifestyle. However, the best indicator is you.

There is no reason why you should not resume, or continue with your work or social activities when you feel well enough.

After the operation you are advised not to lift heavy objects for about six weeks. If you participate in any sports or exercise introduce it back into your lifestyle gradually.

It is important that you rest adequately. Always accept offers of help with shopping, housework or jobs around the house until you feel well enough to resume your normal activities.

There is no reason why you should not go on holiday but discuss this with your colorectal nurse or doctor.

Flying is normally deemed safe about 2 weeks after your operation. You will have to let your insurance company know you have had an operation.

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Driving Your Car

You can drive your car soon after your operation if you feel able to do an emergency stop effectively. You will have to wait until at least ten days after the operation and you MUST tell your insurance company before resuming driving.

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After having an operation on your bowel and once you have returned home there are no dietary restrictions on what you can eat and drink, including alcohol in moderation.

However dieticians do advise a well balanced diet of fruit, vegetables, and whole wheat cereals and bread.

In the first few weeks after the operation however, it may be wise to peel away fruit skins and avoid green vegetables and sweet corn.

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Bowel Function

Problems may include diarrhoea, constipation or alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhoea.


It is important to eat a high fibre diet, mobilise gently and to drink at least 3 litres of fluid each day. This can be made up of soup, tea, coffee, juice and squash, although it is advisable to avoid drinking a lot of tea and coffee because it contains caffeine and can cause dehydration and constipation.


It is not unusual, after an operation on your bowels, to have slightly looser stools and some urgency. Therefore if you feel you may want to open your bowels do not try to hold on, but go to the toilet immediately.

Generally, the large bowel (colon) adapts with time and control and consistency of stools improves.

Please do not hesitate to contact your colorectal nurse who can give advice and support over the telephone, in clinic or visit you at home. There is a lot that can be done to help improve bowel function.

If you experience diarrhoea it is important to keep drinking to keep your body hydrated.

It may help to avoid food and dairy products for 24 hours and once the diarrhoea stops try eating dry, bland food, toast, crackers etc, and slowly return to a full diet. Some people believe live yoghurt preparations help.

If either of these symptoms persist it is important to contact your GP or colorectal nurse who may be able to advise on suitable medication.

Although this can be upsetting do remember that your bowel function should continue to improve over the next two years.

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Sexual Activities

Many people are able to continue their usual sexual activity once they have physically recovered from the effects of the surgery.

However, libido (sex drive) often decreases after surgery and during chemotherapy, although this is most likely to be temporary.

If you have had an operation to remove your rectum (back passage) there is a risk that you may suffer from impotence.

If you have concerns about particular aspects of your sexual activity please do not hesitate to contact your colorectal nurse who may advise you or may ensure you are referred to a relevant specialist.

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Signs and Symptoms to watch out for

It is important however that you are aware of the signs and symptoms that could indicate a further abnormality.

If you experience one or a combination of the following for more than 6 weeks you should contact your GP or your Colorectal Nurse:

  1. Loose stools and diarrhoea
  2. Increasing bouts of constipation
  3. Change of normal bowel action(how often you open your bowels)
  4. Blood and / or mucus with your stool
  5. Decreased appetite / weight loss
  6. Lethargy (lack of energy) – this may be due to anaemia, caused by blood loss from the bowel
  7. Sometimes people experience a feeling of not being able to completely empty their bowels (this is known as tenesmus)
  8. Some people experience abdominal (tummy) pain or discomfort.

Next Section: Followup Treatments

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