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How to Prepare for Crohn's Surgery

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on October 22, 2020

If you plan to have Crohn’s disease surgery, you’ll need to take some steps to make sure the procedure goes well. Since there are a few types of Crohn’s operations, ask your doctor about any special instructions you should follow to prepare for your type of surgery.

Before Crohn’s Surgery

Plan with your doctor. You’ll meet with your medical team so you know what you need to do ahead of the operation. You’ll be able to ask any questions about what you should expect before, during, and after your procedure.

If you need to get a stoma (an opening in your abdomen), your doctor can also give you more details during these appointments. They might mark the area on your stomach where you’ll get the stoma so it’s easier to find during surgery.

Follow your doctor’s instructions. Your doctor might give you a mixture of laxatives and water that will clear your bowels. You’ll drink it at home before surgery. The liquid will cause diarrhea to empty your colon. They may also suggest an enema, which also clears your bowels.

You might also get an antibiotic to fight bacteria in your colon and avoid infections. Carefully follow your doctor’s instructions for taking it.

Eat a healthy diet. It’s always best to stick to a well-balanced diet, especially in the month before surgery. Crohn’s may affect what foods you can tolerate, so the specific foods you need depend on what works best for your body.

But generally, it’s best to eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and lean protein. You may want to stay away from acidic fruits, strong seasonings, and marinades.

It’s also important to drink plenty of water in the days before surgery.

Don’t smoke or drink. If you smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol regularly, it’s best to stop before your surgery. If you smoke or drink in the days before your surgery, you could have trouble with your anesthesia or healing.

Talk about medications and other disorders. Make sure your doctor knows about all the medications, vitamins, and supplements you take. They might tell you to stop some of them before surgery in order to help prevent complications.

You should also tell your doctor if you have any other health issues, like diabetes, asthma, a previous stroke, or any chronic conditions.

Check about anesthesia. Talk to your doctor if you or anyone in your family has had a bad reaction to anesthesia or other pain medications.

It’s also important to let them know if you snore, have sleep apnea, or any other sleep problems. These conditions could cause you to have issues with your anesthesia during surgery.

Shower. Your doctor may suggest that you shower with a certain type of soap before your operation to help prevent an infection.

Fast. You’ll need to fast for a certain amount of time before you have surgery. If you don’t, food and liquid in your body could get into your lungs or cause nausea after you’re put under anesthesia. Ask your doctor when you should start your fast and if it’s OK for you to have small sips of water before your operation.

Wear comfortable clothing. You might be sore or swollen after your surgery. Bring a comfy outfit to change into. Stay away from tight or irritating clothing.

Prepare for Recovery

Ask for help. After surgery, you may have to stay at the hospital for a few days. Ask a friend or family member to take care of responsibilities while you’re away.

Clean your home. Before surgery, you should prepare your home for when you return. Keep it organized, and gather tools that can help you get hard-to-reach objects after the surgery.

Plan follow-up appointments. You’ll need to see your doctor after your surgery to make sure that your body is healing well. You can plan these appointments before your surgery. This way, you won’t have to schedule anything while you heal.

Adjust your diet. Ask your doctor what foods you should eat after surgery. These things may be different than what you normally have. Stock up on these items before your operation.

Take time off. If you go back to your normal schedule too quickly, you could delay your recovery. Plan to take time off school or work so that you can have enough time to heal.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Crohn’s and Colitis Canada: “Surgery for Crohn’s Disease.”

Mayo Clinic: “Colectomy,” “General anesthesia.”

Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation: “Surgery for Crohn’s Disease.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Scheduled for Surgery? 5 Ways to Prepare Yourself.”

American Society of Anesthesiologists: “Preparing for Surgery: Checklist.”

Fairview Hospital: “Showering Before Surgery.”

UCLA Health: “When to Stop Eating and Drinking.”

Oregon Health and Science University: “Surgery Walk Through.”

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