How Long For BM After Surgery (And Why)?

Exact answer: 2 days

BM is one of the most commonly used abbreviations in the medical and internet community that connotes bowel movements. After a surgical procedure, the bowel movements of the patient in question may be altered. Passing gas and having normal bowel movements are considered to be important signs of recovery.

Every surgery has a toll on the gut of the patient. Constipation and discomfort are common problems associated with surgical procedures.  It may also take a while to return to one’s normal pre-surgery standards. During this duration, the patient can be put on certain medications to help ease his or her bowel movements.

How Long For BM After Surgery

How Long For BM After Surgery?

Surgery is a taxing process for the body. After the procedure is over, the patient may often experience discomfort and stress. This may be mainly in terms of the individual’s bowel movements. Constipation is a common post-surgery issue for patients.

Generally, it is advisable that the patient in question passes gas or has a bowel movement at least within the first 2 days of the procedure. Most doctors stress the need to have a bowel movement within this average timeframe as it indicates that the internal organs of the patient are returning to their normal functional thresholds.

However, patients may have problems with their bowel movements especially if they have had to undergo abdominal surgery. This discomfort may persist for at least a week after the procedure. In such a scenario, the patient is advised to take a laxative to help relieve him or her of the issue. When the medicine is ingested, results can be seen within a couple of hours.

If the patient is unable to have a bowel movement even after a week of the surgery and has already been prescribed relieving meds, then the doctors may want to pursue other avenues of action that help identify the core issue.

In these instances, until the core problem is unveiled, the patient may continue to have no bowel movements after surgery. The condition of the individual will definitely be very precarious and uncomfortable. The individual may even be administered an enema to help with his BM. Usually, the enema does the work in about 30 minutes, provided there are no other issues with the patient.


 In Summary:

Post-Surgery CircumstanceTime Period of Waiting
NormalUntil 2 days
ConstipatedA week
Severely Backed-upMore than a week

Why Wait So Long For BM After Surgery?

Surgical procedures always tend to affect the internal systems of the body. They are invasive and quite stressful for the human body. Moreover, the pre-surgery protocols that a patient has to follow also affect the ability of his body to have proper bowel movements.

As patients are not allowed to eat or drink anything before surgery, their dietary intake is severely reduced for 24 hours prior to the procedure. This affects the way our body processes nutrients. Instead, the intravenous nutrient drip is used to substitute food. Thus, the stomach is empty.

If there is no food in the system of the patient, BM will be impossible. Moreover, the patient is not allowed to eat significantly large portions right after the surgery. This too affects the way the body processes nutrients and how bowel movements work.

The medication prescribed to the patient including the anesthetic used in the surgery may also impact the BM of the individual. All these factors together influence the ability of the patient to have a smooth bowel movement immediately after the procedure. Thus, BM after the first 2 days is considered more or less normal after surgery.


However, if the patient is unable to BM after a week, then it is prudent to take internal scans and images of his digestive system. This is because the lack of proper BM so long after the procedure may be indicative of a serious issue or a bowel impaction. This may be most significant in the cases where the patient has undergone abdominal surgery.


After each surgical procedure, medical teams looking after the patient monitor him or her closely. Normal bowel movements are an important part of the patient’s road to recovery. This is closely evaluated by the doctors in charge when the patient is still in the hospital after surgery.

Generally, a patient’s BM returns to normal within a couple of days after the surgical procedure. However, there are patients who continue to feel uncomfortable and constipated even after the first couple of days. In such cases, laxatives can be prescribed by doctors to help ease the bowel movements of the patient in question.


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