Treating colon and rectal conditions with experience and sensitivity
The colon and rectum are part of your large intestine and form the final portion of your digestive track. Their main purpose is to process and pass waste from your body. Colorectal surgery is sometimes required to treat wide variety of conditions, including colon and rectal cancer.
Polyps, or growths on the colon, can increase your risk of developing these cancers, which is why regular screening is a vital preventative measure. A colonoscopy is a very effective and relatively painless cancer screening method used to identify polyps or abnormalities and remove them.
Removing these growths lowers your cancer risk, as certain types of polyps will almost always become cancerous. If they do become cancerous, other areas of the body can be affected as well. To prevent the cancer from spreading, early detection and removal are key.
At Surgical Associates, colorectal surgery is commonly performed using minimally-invasive techniques, including laparoscopic surgery that uses smaller incisions to reduce recovery time and the risk of complications.
Colorectal concerns can often be difficult or embarrassing to discuss. At Surgical Associates, our experienced team will help put you at ease and collaborate with you to create a personalized treatment plan as quickly as possible. Our surgeons perform screening and diagnostic colonoscopies as well as major intestinal surgery. Regardless of the procedure, our priority is helping the “whole patient” and guiding you through the process from beginning to end.
The better prepared you are for your colorectal surgery, the more successful your recovery is likely to be. While planning ahead for your surgery, be sure to:
- Complete a physical exam and additional tests as requested by your doctor.
- These help ensure you are healthy enough for surgery and provide the doctor with detailed images of your colon and other organs.
- Stop smoking.
- Smoking will slow your healing.
- Stop eating and drinking before your surgery as directed.
- Complete bowel prep as directed.
- This can include drinking a liquid laxative, taking pills, using enemas, or a combination of these methods to clear your colon. Your doctor will tell you how long before surgery bowel prep must be completed.
- Provide a complete list of current medications.
- This includes over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbal remedies.
- Discuss with your doctor how long you will need to take off work.
- Arrange for someone to drive you home from the hospital following your procedure
Your doctor will discuss with you the benefits and risks, while also giving full instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. This provides an excellent opportunity to ask questions or have concerns addressed before moving forward.
Colorectal surgery may require part or all of the colon to be removed. In most cases, surgeons then reconnect the healthy parts of the bowel. In other instances, a temporary or permanent stoma may be required. At Surgical Associates, your procedure may be performed through a single incision in the abdomen (open surgery) or laparoscopically.
Laparoscopy is a minimally-invasive technique performed through three to five small incisions. Carbon dioxide is pushed into the abdomen and lifts the abdominal wall away from the organs to create a working and viewing space for the surgeon. A camera is placed inside the abdomen, and surgical instruments are then inserted through the other incisions to perform the procedure. Recovery is usually faster with laparoscopic surgery.
When is a stoma needed?
With some surgeries, one end of the intestine is brought to an opening created in the abdominal wall. This opening, called a stoma, creates a new path for waste to leave the body. This step may be necessary to keep the colon and rectum clear of stool while they heal or because the rectum was removed during the procedure.
Following your colorectal surgery, you should be able to continue to live a healthy, active life.
Your next step following surgery is the recovery room, where staff will administer pain medication as needed. It won’t take long, though, for you to be up and walking around! Resuming activity after surgery is important in preventing blood clots and helps bowel function return to normal. You will also be given breathing exercises to keep your lungs clear.
Most patients stay in the hospital for initial recovery a week or longer. At first, your meals will be in liquid form, but solid food will gradually be added to your diet. Soon after this point, your doctors will release you to finish your recovery at home.
Steps for healing at home:
- Care for your incisions as instructed.
- Gradually ease back to your normal diet by initially eating smaller meals more often.
- Increase your activity level as you feel stronger, but be careful not to overexert yourself.
- Stay in touch with your provider. A nurse will show you the proper care techniques before you leave the hospital, but we are here for help and advice any time you need it.
Follow-up visits will ensure you are healing well and can address any questions you have about recovery.
If you have a fever, nausea or vomiting for longer than 12 hours, an incision that increases in redness, bleeding, or drainage, pain that doesn’t go away or gets worse, no bowel movements for four days or longer, black or tarry stools, pain or swelling in your calf, shortness of breath, or chest pain, call Surgical Associates immediately.
Will my insurance cover my surgery?
- Call your insurance company and let them know that you are having surgery, what kind of surgery and the date of your surgery. They will give you a summary of your benefits.
- If your surgery is elective, preauthorization may need to be obtained and Surgical Associates will submit the required information for preauthorization. Surgery will not be scheduled until we know that we have that preauthorization. Whether or not surgery is elective or not, Surgical Associates will contact your insurance to make sure precertification has been obtained.
What will be my arrival time for surgery?
The timing of your procedure is not figured out until the day before. You will receive instructions from your surgeon’s office.
What kind of prep will I need before my procedure?
This depends on the type of procedure you are having. Some procedures will require a bowel prep, other procedures require just nothing to eat or drink after midnight, and other procedures require just showering with an antibacterial soap the night before and the morning of surgery. Your surgeon’s office will give you these instructions when your surgery is scheduled.
Will I need to stay in the hospital overnight or go home the same day?
This depends on the type of surgery you have. Your surgeon will advise you on what to expect in this regard.
What about my medications? Will I need to stop any of them before surgery?
Bring your medications to your appointment with you so we can confirm what medications you are taking and advise you on how to take each medication before and after surgery. Blood thinners, for example, may have to be stopped for a period of time prior to surgery.
Will I need a driver?
Yes. Most procedures we do require an anesthetic of some type. However, if you do not have anesthetic, it would not be a bad idea to have someone come with you anyway. Some people get tense during their procedure and become shaky afterwards, even after a minor procedure. We would rather you get home safely instead of taking any chances.
How long will I be off of work?
The amount of time off of work depends on the type of surgery that you have. Your surgeon and appropriate office staff will guide you on the expected time off.
Will I have any restrictions after surgery?
- Depends on the type of surgery you have. You may have lifting restrictions for a short period of time, or eating restrictions, or shower/bathing restrictions.
- You will not be allowed to drive if you are taking any narcotics or medications that would inhibit driving safely.
Will I see my surgeon after surgery?
Yes. You will have a postop appointment 1, 2 or 3 weeks after surgery so we can check your incisions and make sure you are healing well and as expected.
What if I have forms that need to be completed for my employer or disability company?
Surgical Associates has specific staff who will take care of filling out those forms. Bring the forms with you to your appointment. Make sure you have filled out your portion of the forms and signed wherever you are required to before handing them in. Also, make sure your name and date of birth on those forms and instructions on where to send the forms when they are completed by the office staff.
When can I drive after surgery?
After surgery you will be sore and have some limited mobility. Once you are completely off of any narcotic pain medications and once you feel that you can quickly slam on the brake if you needed to, you can drive. Your surgeon will advise you on what to expect for the timing of this.