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Yes, you’ll usually need to change what you eat while you recover from bowel surgery. Eating low-fibre food, such as white bread and well-cooked or peeled fruit and vegetables can help to prevent diarrhoea. Avoid foods and drinks that may cause bloating and wind, such as beans and fizzy drinks. And try to eat smaller, more frequent meals, high in calories and protein. As your bowel heals, you will be able to eat more. Your hospital will give you more advice.
Bowel surgery may affect your sex life. If you have surgery near your back passage (rectum), it may affect your pelvic nerves, which can lead to difficulties when you have sex. Problems include erection or ejaculation problems, and reduced sensitivity and changes to the vagina, which might make sex painful. Talk to your doctor or nurse if this is affecting you because they may be able to help.
Having a colostomy or ileostomy bag shouldn’t stop you doing any of the things you used to do. But it can take time to get used to it and you may need to make some adjustments and plan ahead more. You can bath or shower with one on, and you can get a device to stop your seat belt pressing on your stoma and bag when you drive. Colostomy and ileostomy bags shouldn’t leak or smell (except when you change them, and you can buy products to reduce this). There’s plenty of support – see our section on other helpful websites for details.
It can take weeks to recover from bowel surgery. You’ll likely feel tired to begin with while you recover and it’s important to take time to rest. But do try to get up and move around as much as you can because it will make you feel better and lower your chance of getting complications.
For more information, see our section on recovery for bowel surgery.
There are different types of bowel surgery to remove different amounts and sections of bowel. If you have a total colectomy, for example, all of your large bowel is removed, but if you have a transverse colectomy, only the middle part is removed. Your surgeon will explain what the most appropriate procedure is for you.
For more information, see our section: About bowel surgery.
How long you stay in hospital after bowel surgery will depend on the type of surgery you had, and how your recovery goes. If you had surgery to treat bowel cancer, you’ll usually go home about a week later. If you had surgery to treat Crohn’s disease, the time can vary a lot between individuals.
For more information, see our section on aftercare for bowel surgery.
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This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
Any information about a treatment or procedure is generic, and does not necessarily describe that treatment or procedure as delivered by Bupa or its associated providers.
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