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 patients are able to return to work within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Other home care

  • Diarrhea or loose stools are common for the first week or two after surgery, but if you have watery diarrhea, call your surgeon. This may be a sign of a bowel infection.

  • 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.

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

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day, unless directed otherwise. Remember, you need to drink more than what comes out of your ostomy to keep from getting dehydrated. But not everyone has an ostomy after total abdominal colectomy.

  • 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 medication

  • Drainage or redness around your incision

  • Bright red or dark black stools