What can I do if I have constipation after surgery?
So I know it isn’t the most glamorous topic, but if you are affected by post op constipation, it is definitely an important one. Many aspects of surgery make it more difficult to go number two for a while, and it can make recovery more uncomfortable than it needs to be.
Anesthesia and pain medication both slow down the natural movement of the GI tract. This means more swallowed air and saliva stay in the intestines, which can delay bowel movements for up to 3-5 days after surgery. Combined with swelling, this can create a lot of abdominal discomfort, especially after tummy tuck and abdominal liposuction.
Also, diet is often abnormal for the first few days after surgery. Most people have decreased appetite for a few days after surgery, so most aren’t eating enough fiber or solid food to keep things moving quickly.
So what can I do about it?
The best idea is to prevent constipation to begin with. Eating lots of fiber and staying well hydrated before surgery will ensure you don’t go to the operating room already at high risk for a problem after surgery.
For patients with chronic constipation, a regimen should be started a couple days before surgery. There are two basic choices when it comes to dealing with constipation. – stool softeners and laxatives.
Stool softeners are the best choice because they make it easier for the body to go by drawing water into the colon to make the stool softer and easier to pass. They don’t cause cramping, and they will cause less electrolyte imbalance than laxatives. Some effective stool softeners are Colace, Miralax, and Mineral oil.
If those are ineffective for several days, glycerine suppositories and enemas can still be easier to tolerate than laxatives (such as Magnesium or ExLax), which cause cramping from movement of the intestines.