What causes constipation after a tummy tuck surgery?

Posted on Mon, 6 Oct 2014 in Constipation
Question: I have had a low anterior resection for rectal cancer 10 years ago. I have always been constipated since. I have taken 1/2 to 1 lax (movicol) XXXXXXX daily to keep my stools moving.
I have now had a tummy tuck operation 9 days ago and have been unable to pass any stool. I have taken the lax sachets (1/day), but I am only bloated.
I am now worried that the tummy tuck will permanently worsen my constipation, can that happen? When might I expect some improvement? I am really really worried about not been able to have bowel motions again like before the tummy tuck!

I had liposuction to the hips at the same time and there is a lot of fluid under the skin. The surgeon also repaired a small umbilical hernia during the tummy tuck and I have had a lot of discharge from the navel.
I was treated with Augmentin 1g twice daily for 7 days and have no fever.
I want to add that I discontinued the Tylenol after 2 days post operation. i am no longer on any medication.
I am a 59 year old female.
Thanks for your time !
Answered by Dr. Monish De 28 minutes later
Brief Answer:
Constipation after surgery is common

Detailed Answer:

Constipation after tummy tuck operation is very common.

It is due to the effect of general anesthesia and use of narcotic pain medications that may have been used durung the time of surgery.

These medications slow your bowels down and put them to sleep.

Constipation is just temporary and will resolve with time.

Secondly you must be eating less during the postoperative phase.

Thirdly you are likely walking a little less than usual after operation and ambulation helps get the bowels moving.

I would advise you to take colace or other gentle stool softeners to aid the process.

You should also not strain or push as it could damage your tummy tuck.

If constipation still persist then you can use proctoclysis enema locally.

It is a procedure of introducing liquids into the rectum and colon through the anus.

The increasing volume of the liquid causes rapid expansion of the lower intestinal tract, often resulting in very uncomfortable bloating, cramping, powerful peristalsis, a feeling of extreme urgency and complete evacuation of the lower intestinal tract and thus releiving constipation.

Hope i have answered your query.



Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Vaishalee Punj
Follow up: Dr. Monish De 13 hours later
Thank you, Dr Monish, your reply makes me feel more at ease with the current problem of constipation.
Stool softeners dont seem to work at the moment, the colon is definitely "sleeping"
And I feel I need something to stimulate peristalsis, so have taken Dulculax, which works. The stool is soft.
I am starting to get stronger now and can move around a bit more, which will also help.
When can I expect to have my bowels back to normal?

Answered by Dr. Monish De 9 hours later
Brief Answer:
5 to 6 weeks

Detailed Answer:

It generally takes 5 to 6 weeks for bowels to come back to normal.

Since Dulcolax is making your stool soft i will advise you to stay well hydrated and eat nutritious food and take plenty of fibre diet and you should be absolutely fine.

Wishing you good health.

If you have no more clarifications then please rate the answer and close the thread.


Above answer was peer-reviewed by : Dr. Ashwin Bhandari
Answered by
Dr. Monish De


Practicing since :2004

Answered : 2233 Questions


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