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 (4.5 kg) 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 people are able to return to work within 4 to 6 weeks after surgery.

Other home care

  • Diarrhea or loose stools are common after surgery, and can last weeks to months. If you have watery, or bloody diarrhea, call your surgeon. This may be a sign of a bowel infection or other problem.

  • 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.

  • Initially, you may be on a low fiber diet. After this, adding fiber can help with the diarrhea. If it is severe, your doctor may add a medicine for the diarrhea as well.

  • You may use pain medicine as directed by your provider. Discuss your best option before leaving the hospital and at your post operative visit.

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

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day, unless directed otherwise. It's very important to prevent dehydration, especially if you have an ostomy (a bag that collects stool) or diarrhea. 

  • 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.

  • If you have an ostomy, you likely will have met with an ostomy nurse in the hospital. You may have more questions once you get home. Contact the ostomy nurse or your surgeon.

Follow-up care

Make a follow-up appointment, or as advised.

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

  • Chills

  • 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 medicine

  • Drainage or redness around your incision

  • Bright red or dark black stools

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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