General and Gastrointestinal Surgery

Pain and Discomfort

It is normal to have pain after your operation. How much pain a patient experiences usually depends on the individual and not on the operation.  Pain normally is located over the incision and in the groin.  If you or your family were not informed of anything unusual after surgery, rest assured that everything is fine and the procedure went according to plan.


You should keep ice on the area of surgery for 24 to 48 hours.  This will minimize postoperative swelling and reduce pain. There is no benefit to using ice after the first 48 hours.


You have been given a prescription for a narcotic: hydrocodone (Vicodin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) with codeine.  You can take one or two tablets every six hours. If you experience itching or a rash, call the office immediately and stop the medication. If your pain is not controlled by the medication you have been given, call the office. It is helpful to take some type of pain medicine (narcotic or over-the-counter) before getting out of bed and before going to sleep for the first few days after surgery.

If you do not like the drowsy feeling these medications cause or you do not need as much medication, you can try the following: 

  • Ibuprofen (600 mg every 6 hours),

  • Tylenol (two extra strength every 6 hours) or Aspirin (two every 6 hours)

Bowel discomfort

After surgery you may notice alterations in your bowel habits. 

  • Diarrhea can occur from the surgery itself or from the antibiotics you received. This is best treated with Metamucil, Amphogel or Yogurt.  

  • Constipation is very common and results from the narcotic pain medicine you are taking.  To avoid constipation, take Hailey's MO or Milk of Magnesia as directed on the bottle once per day while you take the narcotics.

Groin discomfort

After surgery,  men may notice swelling of their penis and or scrotum and women may notice swelling of the labial area of their vagina.  This is from the surgery and will go away. Ice (and for men a scrotal support) will reduce any discomfort. 

You may also notice black and blue discoloration of the groin and/or genitals as well as numbness of the area.  This. too, is not cause for alarm, even if it occurs a few days after the surgery.  It usually goes away in a few days.

Incisional care