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What are the potential side effects of colorectal surgery?

Potential side effects of surgery depend on several factors, including the extent of the operation and a person's general health before surgery. Most people will have at least some pain after the operation, but it usually can be controlled with medicines if needed. Eating problems usually resolve within a few days of surgery.

Other problems may include bleeding from the surgery, blood clots in the legs, and damage to nearby organs during the operation. Rarely, the new connections between the ends of the intestine may not hold together completely and may leak, which can lead to infection. It is also possible that the abdominal incision might open up, causing an open wound. After the surgery, you might develop scar tissue in the abdomen that can cause organs or tissues to stick together. These are called adhesions. In some cases, adhesions may cause the bowel to become blocked, requiring further surgery.

Colostomy or ileostomy: Some people may require a temporary or permanent colostomy (or ileostomy) after surgery. This may take some time to get used to and may require some lifestyle adjustments. If you have a colostomy or ileostomy, you will need help in learning how to manage it. Specially trained ostomy nurses or enterostomal therapists can do this. They will usually see you in the hospital before your operation to discuss the ostomy and to mark a site for the opening. After the operation they may come to your house or an outpatient setting to provide you with more training.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.