What happens before the surgery?

If you smoke, try to give up or cut down before your operation. This will help reduce your risk of chest problems such as a chest infection. It will also help your wound to heal after the operation. Your GP can give you advice and support to help you give up smoking.

You will go to a pre-assessment clinic for tests to check you’re fit for the operation. These may include blood tests, a blood pressure check and a recording of your heart (ECG).

You will meet a member of the surgical team to discuss the operation. If you are going to have a stoma after the operation, you will also meet a stoma care nurse who will explain what’s involved. This is a good time to share any questions or concerns you have about the operation. If you think you may need help when you go home after surgery, for example because you live alone or care for someone else, tell your nurse as soon as possible. It will help them to make arrangements in plenty of time.

Some hospitals follow an enhanced recovery programme, which aims to reduce the time you spend in hospital and speed up your recovery. It involves you more in your own care. For example, you’ll be given information about diet and exercise before surgery. You may be given supplement drinks to take.

Any arrangements needed for you to go home will also be organised for you. Your doctor will tell you if an enhanced recovery programme is suitable for you and if it’s available.

Back to Surgery explained

What happens after surgery?

Your specialist nurse will help you recover after surgery and you’ll probably be ready to go home after 3–7 days.

Bowel function after surgery

If you have problems with bowel function after surgery, talk to your surgeon or nurse. There are treatments that can help.

If you have a stoma

Adjusting to a stoma takes time but most people manage well with support from their stoma care nurse.