Preventing complications

Your caregivers will do many things to reduce your chance of a developing a complication (problem) after surgery.

  • Your temperature, breathing rate, pulse and blood pressure will be taken often after surgery.
  • To improve circulation, you will wear leg compression devices until you are walking at least four to eight times each day.
  • To support good digestion and bowel function, you will sit up in bed or in a chair when drinking all nutritional supplements, or eating meals or snacks. 
  • You will do deep breathing, coughing exercises, and use an incentive spirometer to help protect your respiratory system.
  • The dressing will be changed or removed as needed. If you have staples, they are usually removed seven to 10 days after surgery at your clinic visit.
  • You may have a small tube that's connected to a wound drain or collection container. It will draw out excess blood and fluid from the area around your incision.
  • You will have an intravenous (IV) line for one to two days. The nurse may disconnect the fluids the day after surgery, but the IV line will stay in until the epidural is removed (if you have one). It is important to drink six to eight 8-ounce glasses of liquids each day, if tolerated.
  • After the epidural has stopped, your inactivity and pain medicine by mouth combined can cause constipation. To help avoid this, drink plenty of liquids and increase your activity as you can. You may need a stool softener medicine to help prevent constipation.

If you have questions about these care activities, ask your doctor.

Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Understanding Your Colon or Rectal Surgery, can-ah-95399
First Published: 01/24/2013
Last Reviewed: 08/15/2017