Constipation after surgery and how to treat it.


Your body endures a lot during surgery. Therefore, it is not surprising that patients often have episodes of constipation after surgery. Constipation is dry or hard stools that make you have trouble passing them.

This article will discuss the causes of constipation after surgery. He will also discuss some of the complications of this problem and how to prevent and treat them.

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What is a normal bowel movement?

Normal bowel movements are different for each person. If you normally have two or three bowel movements a day, three a week means you are constipated. However, for some people, having three bowel movements a week is fine.

"Normal" stools are soft, shaped, and painless. Normal bowel movements can also be controlled.

There is no rule about how often you should have a bowel movement. Constipation is when your bowel movements become less frequent than usual for you.

The longer you empty, the heavier the stool will be. This is because the stool dries up in the colon as the water is absorbed back into the bloodstream.

Causes of constipation after surgery.

There are several reasons that surgical patients are prone to constipation. Most often, the fault lies with the prescription pain relievers.


Opioids are powerful pain relievers. These medications are often prescribed after surgery to relieve pain . Unfortunately, constipation is a well-known side effect of all opioids.

Opioids slow down the movement of food through the intestinal tract. This gives the body more time to eliminate water. This can lead to drier stools than usual.

Opioids can also increase the amount of water absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.

Finally, opioids can reduce the urge to have a bowel movement. It also gives the body more time to eliminate water.

Food and drinks after surgery

You may have been told not to eat or drink before surgery . After surgery, you may have been told to drink only a small amount of liquid. You may also be advised not to eat anything for a day or two.

Too little fluid and not eating can prevent your body from flushing it out of the body.

Too little fluid in your body means there will be less fluid in your stool. This can cause hard, dry stools.

Food stimulates the digestive system and makes everything move. If you are not eating, food at the entrance, the food at the exit does not work either.

Your food choices may have changed after surgery, too. Even the food you ate in the hospital can be very different from your usual diet. These changes can cause constipation.

In action

Physical activity can cause bowel movements. After surgery, you spend most of your time in bed recovering. This can slow down a bowel movement.


The anesthesia paralyzes the muscles. This stops movement in the intestinal tract. Until the intestines "wake up," the stool does not move.

Complications of constipation

You will feel more comfortable if you can avoid constipation after surgery. There are other reasons why you might want to avoid it.

Constipation can progress to a blockage . This is when the stool is so hard and dry that it is impossible to empty the intestines.

When this happens, the hardened stool must be disposed of in another way, for example:

  • Enemas , in which a doctor injects fluid into the rectum to remove stool.
  • Digital evacuation , in which the doctor flushes the hardened stool with the fingers.
  • Surgery in advanced cases

Severe and prolonged constipation can cause irreparable damage. Sometimes it is necessary to remove segments of the intestine.

This often means that the patient will need a colostomy . A colostomy is when the surgeon creates an opening in the abdomen through which stool can enter the collection device.

Constipation and blockage can be stressful . Straining to force a bowel movement can cause other problems, such as:

  • Unusual heart rate
  • Rectal prolapse , in which the rectum comes out of the anus.
  • Hemorrhoids , swollen veins in the rectum or anus.
  • Difficulty breathing

In surgical patients, stress can put pressure on the incisions . An incision is an incision that the surgeon makes during the procedure.

Stress can damage internal and external cuts. In extreme cases, this can cause the incisions to open .

Patients who have undergone open heart surgery may be at particular risk. In these patients, straining during bowel movements can cause changes in heart rhythm.


Constipation can lead to complications such as blockage, hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse, and abnormal heart rhythms. Stress can also stress your incisions.

Prevent constipation after surgery

It is much easier to prevent constipation than to treat it when it starts. These tips will help you stay regular and avoid as much discomfort as possible.


Your surgeon may prescribe a stool softener to take with a pain reliever. Be sure to follow your surgeon's instructions, even if you've never had constipation before.

It is also important not to use over-the-counter medications without first consulting your doctor. There are many over-the-counter constipation medications available. Some of them can be bad choices. For example, an intestinal stimulant may be too heavy for your body after surgery.

Drink much liquid

Drinking more fluids can help prevent constipation. Avoid caffeinated drinks. Instead, choose drinks like water and juice. They will keep you hydrated and reduce the risk of constipation.

Liquids can also help you heal from constipation.

Remember to take your pain reliever with water. Drink water throughout the day.

The recommended daily intake of water is usually around 64 ounces. This may not be enough for opioids.

Eat more fiber

What you eat can increase or decrease your risk of constipation. Increase your fiber intake by eating fruits and vegetables.

It is best to eat fruits and vegetables that are as close to their natural state as possible. For example, a whole orange contains more fiber than orange juice without pulp.

You can also add fiber to your diet through dietary supplements . However, keep in mind that adding fiber can make constipation worse if you don't drink enough water.

Avoid foods that cause constipation. For example, cheese can cause constipation. The same can be said for a diet rich in meat and few fruits and vegetables.

Regular meals and snacks

Your body will naturally eliminate stool when more food is injected. This is why many people empty themselves after breakfast. Food is coming in, so stool needs to come out. This is why frequent small meals can help you have regular bowel movements.

Physical activity

Physical activity can reduce the risk of constipation. It could be something as simple as walking. However, it is important to follow your surgeon's instructions if you have exercise restrictions.


To prevent postoperative constipation, drink plenty of fluids and eat more fiber. If your doctor says this is normal, physical activity can also help. Ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter constipation prevention medicine.

Treatment of constipation after surgery.

The above tips for preventing constipation will also help if you experience constipation. Increasing your fluid intake is important for constipation. It is also important to add fiber to your diet.

There are many prescription and over-the-counter medications for constipation. However, if you have recently had surgery, consult your doctor before use.

Treatment for constipation depends on how mild or aggressive it is. Some of these can cause severe abdominal discomfort. Overly stimulating medications can cause:

These side effects can also occur if you take too many of these drugs.

Common types of treatments for constipation include:


If you are constipated after surgery, drink plenty of fluids and increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Your doctor can also help you find the right medicine for constipation.


Constipation is when you have fewer bowel movements than usual. This is a common occurrence after surgery.

Pain relievers, what you eat and drink, inactivity, and anesthesia can all contribute to postoperative constipation.

It is best to avoid constipation as it can lead to blockage. This is when your stool is so hard that you cannot pass it. Stress can also lead to problems like an abnormal heart rhythm and hemorrhoids.

You can prevent constipation after surgery by taking medications recommended by your doctor or surgeon. Drinking more fluids and eating more fiber can also help. Eat and snack regularly and be active if your doctor approves.

If you experience constipation, increase your fluid intake and eat more fiber. Your doctor may recommend medications that can help, too.

Get Meds Info Word

Constipation should never be ignored. This is especially true after a stressful experience like surgery.

However, don't be alarmed if you develop constipation. With the help of your doctor and possibly some medications, you can return your intestines to normal.

Frequently asked questions

  • Constipation is very common after surgery and is caused by pain relievers, dietary changes, inactivity, and stress. Between 40% and 95% of patients report that constipation is a side effect of taking opioids for pain relief after surgery.

  • It may take a few days for the intestines and gastrointestinal tract to fully recover from the paralyzing effects of anesthesia and subsequent postoperative constipation.

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