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Major Bowel Surgery


Major bowel surgery may be required where a section of the bowel needs to be removed. This surgery may be performed using laparoscopic or conventional surgical techniques, and your surgeon will be able to advise which of these techniques is likely to be most suitable in your specific case. They will also be able to advise on the exact section that needs to be removed and any potential effects of its removal.

Major bowel surgery is often necessary where a section of the bowel needs to be removed due to:

Postoperative Instructions

Recovery period

After major bowel surgery, it is normal to stay in hospital for 5-7 days. Full recovery from the procedure may take up to three months. Where the patient is elderly or does not have anyone to look after them at home during recovery, a slightly longer period of convalescence in the hospital may be recommended.


You must not drive until 3 weeks after surgery (if laparoscopic surgery) or 5 weeks (if open surgery).

Physical activity

It is advisable to take up regular mild exercise (such as walking) as soon as you leave hospital. Anything more strenuous should not be undertaken for at least a month after a laparoscopic procedure and longer in the case of conventional open surgery (your surgeon will be able to advise you on this).

Food intake

A specific diet may not be necessary; however, it is not uncommon for a low fibre diet to be recommended for the first 8 weeks or so after surgery. In general terms it is also advisable to eat food in smaller portions than normal and also to chew all food well before swallowing.

Wound care

Wound dressings applied immediately after surgery can be removed after five days. A week to 10 days after surgery any staples left in place need to be removed.

Stoma usage

Where a stoma has been fitted, you will be given full instructions on how to use it and look after it. Once you have left hospital you will still have access to community stoma therapists who can help you at home.

Laxative use

You must discuss laxative use after surgery with your surgeon, who will be able to give you some guidelines relevant to your procedure.