Going Home

When you return home from the hospital following your colon and rectal surgery, you’ll need to be aware of some limitations that your surgeon may require. It’s important that you follow these instructions to the best of your ability in order to facilitate a healthy recovery.


The UC Health colon and rectal team encourages you to return to normal activities of daily living—including walking, going up and down stairs and going outside of your home—as soon as you feel able to do so.

Assistance at Home

During your hospital stay, a member of our team will evaluate you for whether you need care by a home health nurse. Particularly if you have a new ileostomy or colostomy, a home health nurse can be arranged to visit you at home. In some cases, you’ll receive in-home physical therapy or occupational therapy.

Eating and Drinking

Generally speaking, focusing on fluid intake will be your primary goal following surgery. Typically, you won’t have any dietary restrictions. However, we often encourage a soft, low-residue diet, which contains foods that are low in fiber and easy for your body to digest. This is particularly relevant if you have a new ileostomy. You’ll receive more information about this while you’re in the hospital.


While in the hospital, the UC Health team will manage your pain using a number of methods including local anestesia and oral narcotics, as well as non-narcotic pain medication. When you go home, you will likely leave with a prescription for narcotic pain medication. It is important that you rely on non-narcotic pain medication such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen as recommended by your surgeon. You should only use narcotic pain medication in order to deal with severe, acute pain.


You should expect your bowel function to not be completely normal for some time after surgery—exactly how long depends on your specific surgery type. It’s normal for your bowels to be fairly loose for at least a few weeks post-surgery. Depending on the type of surgery you have, this may often improve and sometimes return to normal within the first few weeks after surgery. Note that passing gas and even a small amount of stool are an indication that your bowels are functioning.

Return to Work

Depending on the nature of your surgery, you may return to work anywhere from two to six weeks after surgery. When you will be able to return to work also depends on the nature of your work. For example, if you’re able to perform light duty at work, you may be able to return sooner. If your work is such that there is no light duty and you have had major abdominal surgery, then you should plan to be off from work for about four to six weeks.

Heavy Lifting

For four to six weeks after surgery, you shouldn’t lift anything heavier than ten pounds.

Rehabilitation Facilities

We can arrange temporary placement in a rehabilitation facility or skilled nursing facility. The circumstances when this type of care is needed are rare.

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