Constipation after plastic surgery

Before getting to the point where you feel great after your cosmetic surgery procedure, you will have to go through a few days of discomfort. Your cosmetic plastic surgeon should do all they can to help you from becoming miserable until all systems are back to normal.

Although pain and nausea are two of the most common symptoms during your recovery, the one that can get you the worst is constipation. Preventing constipation or at least resolving it as soon as possible after onset will bring a smile to your face.

Reasons for post-operative constipation

  • lack of mobility
  • narcotic medication
  • dehydration
  • change in eating habits
  • fear of exertion in the BR

Lack of mobility

Sitting or lying in bed after plastic surgery is what you instinctively feel you should do. After all, it hurts to move around—initially. That lack of movement in your body also translates to a lack of movement in your bowels, and constipation can set in. Getting up and walking is the first step in getting your bowls moving.


Medications like narcotics have a wonderful ability to reduce your pain by acting on your brain. They also have a horrible ability to reduce your gut motility and cause constipation. As soon as you can you should try to get off your narcotics and switch over to Tylenol-like drugs (not anti-inflammatory drugs like Motrin, Advil, etc., which will cause bleeding in your wounds!). It can take a few days for the effects of narcotics on your bowel motility to wane.


All surgical procedures will dehydrate your body. Lack of hydration can also lead to an increase in constipation by dehydrating your gut. Drinking lots of fluid after your cosmetic surgery to replenish your body fluids can help in the fight.

Change in eating/Bowel Antibiotic Flora

After surgery you may feel less hungry for such as:
  • pain
  • nausea
  • medications
A change in your eating habits, both in terms of quantity and type, will change your intestines’ usual mechanisms and can lead to constipation. Help yourself by eating foods that tend to make your bowel movements looser, such as prunes, and avoid constipating food such as rice, bananas, apples, etc. The antibiotics that you will probably be taking at the same time will also kill off “good” bacteria in your bowels and lead to constipation. There are a number of yogurts that are marketed these days as making you “regular” by including extra cultures of gut bacteria. See here for more information about one such yogurt:

Fear of exertion

To make matters worse, the fact that you may be constipated leads you to have to exert more when in the bathroom and the fear that it will lead to more pain. So you don’t exert and don’t evacuate! And then things get worse. Studies have shown that 80% of women are constipated on a normal basis even without surgery. It is imperative that patients do all they can to avoid a post-surgical nuisance such as constipation from becoming a hindrance to an easy and comfortable recovery.Oh, I nearly forgot.What to do if constipated


  • Drink lots of fluid
  • Take a stool softener
  • Eat prunes
  • Take a laxative, such as ex-lax
  • Use a rectal suppository such as Dulcolax
  • Use one or two Fleet’s enemas
  • Always let your surgeon know before you start the process outlined above!