You had the diseased part of the large (colon) or small bowel removed. The two healthy ends were sewn or stapled back together, and the incision was closed. This Health Facts for You will tell you how to care for yourself at home after a bowel resection.

Incision Care
Look at your incision daily. A normal wound is puffy and pink. You may have clear or pink drainage. It may be numb and bruised and will form scabs.

Watch for signs of infection:

  • Increase in redness

  • Warm to the touch

  • Red or pink color that spreads beyond the incision site

  • Pus-like drainage

  • Excess swelling or bleeding

  • Fever (measured by mouth) more than 100.4º F for 2 readings, 4 hours apart

  • Increase in pain at the incision

When you can get your wound wet, you may shower and wash it with a mild soap and water. Pat it dry. Do not soak in a bathtub, hot tub or swim until incision is fully healed.

Do not use lotion, powder, or ointment on your wound unless directed by your doctor.

If you have tape strips or glue on your wound, allow this to fall off on its own.

You do not need to wear a dressing on your wound unless it rubs on your clothes, drains or it is in a skin fold. If you wear a dressing, change it at least every day and more often if it gets wet.

It is normal for your incision to feel hard along the length. This is sometimes called a “healing ridge.”

Bowel Movements
For 6 weeks after surgery you may have an increased number of bowel movements each day. They may be loose, this is normal. As your body heals and your diet has more fiber, you will likely have fewer, and more formed bowel movements. If a section of your large bowel is removed, and you are taking pain medicine or adding more fiber to your diet, you may have some constipation. It is important to add more fluids to your diet to help prevent this. Be sure to drink 8-10 eight-ounce glasses of fluid (without caffeine) every day.

It is normal to have some pain. Pain medicine will be ordered for you, if needed.


  • Do not lift more than 10 pounds for the first 6 weeks.

  • No strenuous activity until your doctor says it is okay. Walking is fine and it helps you heal.

  • Check with your doctor before going back to work.

  • Resume sex when you feel ready.

  • Ask your doctor when you may drive. You should not drive if you are taking narcotic pain medicine.

  • It may take 2-3 months for you to feel like yourself again.

Low Residue Diet
You will be on a low fiber and residue diet for 2 weeks after surgery. At your first follow-up visit, we will talk with you about your diet and when to start a general diet.

When to Call

  • Any signs of infection

  • Pain not controlled with pain pills

  • Severe abdominal pain

  • Bloating

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Constipation

Who to Call
Digestive Health Center
Monday – Friday, 8 am – 5 pm
(608) 242-2800 or (855) 342-9900
After hours, weekends or holidays this number will be answered by the paging operator. Ask for the doctor on call for Dr. ________________. Leave your name and phone number with area code. The doctor will call you back.