How to cope or recover after anal surgery

Anal surgery can be very extensive but often is necessary to establish a diagnosis of anal cancer or to ensure that anal cancer is not present. Sometimes the only way to obtain an adequate specimen is in the operating room.

Following your surgery, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Most people have moderate to severe discomfort and pain that lasts anywhere from one to three weeks following the treatment. Most of the discomfort is associated with bowel movements.  
  2. Take 600 mg of ibuprofen (Advil) every 6 hours for the first 24 hours, or longer if needed for pain. This also helps with inflammation. If a doctor has told you NOT to use non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen or naproxen), please do not take them.
  3. You can also purchase a numbing cream, 5% Lidocaine Anorectal cream to apply every 2 hours as needed. You can also apply the cream 1-10 minutes before a bowel movement to minimize pain associated with a bowel movement. 
  4. Soak aggressively in a hot bathtub for 15-20 minutes several times per day starting on the day of treatment. It is most soothing after bowel movements. The bath feels good and helps you heal faster as the heat brings more blood flow to the area. If you do not have a bathtub, soak a washcloth in hot water and apply to your anus until the washcloth cools down. Repeat for 5-10 minutes.  
  5. If opiate pain medication was prescribed (such as Vicodin, Norco, oxycodone, Percocet, or Dilaudid), you can alternate this with ibuprofen. If you use these pain medications, you must also use a stool softener to prevent constipation (see below.)
  6. Keep your bowel movements soft and moving. You should use an over-the-counter stool softener or fiber supplements to avoid constipation (e.g. Metamucil, senna or docusate.)  Also, consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and drink at least several glasses of water every day. Avoid hot and spicy foods.
  7. No vigorous exercise (gym, sports, dancing) or heavy lifting for three weeks after surgery.  
  8. Following treatment, there is frequently a moderate amount of bleeding with bowel movements for up to 2-3 weeks.
  9. Do NOT have receptive anal sex or insert anything into your anus (including fingers and toys) for 6- 8 weeks after your treatment. A good guide is when you feel completely back to normal, wait an additional two weeks before inserting anything into your anus. Doing this too soon may cause tearing or additional bleeding. 
  10. You may need to take several days off of work after the procedure, depending on your level of discomfort. We will provide a letter for your employer excusing you from work if needed.

Post-treatment discomfort and bleeding varies from patient to patient and may last for several weeks or months.

Contact us

Please communicate with your provider if pain relief is not achieved through medication or other comfort measures mentioned above, you may reach us at 415-353-7100.