What You Need to Know About Preparing For Your Colonoscopy

Nov 02, 2023

What You Need to Know About Preparing For Your Colonoscopy

You’re making a smart move to safeguard your health and having us perform a colonoscopy. If this is your first time, here’s a look at how you can make the preparation process go as smoothly as possible

Each year in the United States, about 15 million colonoscopies are performed, which means many wise people understand the importance of this cancer screening. 

If this is your first go around, you want to know what to expect and how to make everything go as smoothly as possible.

The team of board-certified colorectal surgeons here at Fairfax Colon & Rectal Surgery is right there with you. We’ve performed scores of colonoscopies, and we’ve learned a few things along the way.

In the following, we share some tips that will have you arriving well-prepared and ready to go for your colonoscopy procedure with us.

Why colonoscopy prep is important

First, we want to touch on why preparing well for a colonoscopy is so important. Our goal during this screening is to investigate the lining of your colon and rectum for any abnormal growths (polyps). As you might imagine, the cleaner the inside of your lower digestive tract is, the better our view.

So, the prep is designed to thoroughly clean out your digestive tract so we can get an unimpeded look at your colon and rectum.

Watch what you eat in advance

The bulk of your colonoscopy prep occurs the day before your colonoscopy with a bowel prep. Our team will provide easy-to-follow instructions and a prescription for your prep kit, which you can get at any pharmacy.

The day before your colonoscopy, we ask that you stick to a clear liquid diet (more on this in a moment), but you might consider only eating soft, easily digestible foods for a day or two before that. In other words, eating a big steak two days before your colonoscopy will mean more work during the bowel cleanout. Instead, try some scrambled eggs, a nice soup, or other low-fat, low-fiber meals in the days leading up to your prep day.

Prep day tips

On the day of your final prep, which is the day before your colonoscopy, we will confine you to an all-liquid diet, so it’s helpful to get stocked up. We will provide you with a list of liquids, including juices, broths, and other beverage dos and don’ts. So, be sure to have these on hand.

When it comes to the laxative that will do the heavy lifting in terms of cleaning out your bowels, we’ll let you know when you should take it, which is usually in the afternoon or evening.

This laxative often comes in different flavors, so be sure to pick a good one because you’ll be drinking a good amount of this liquid. And you must drink it all for a proper cleanse.

Once the laxative goes to work, you’ll be expelling everything from inside your digestive tract, so plan to be close to a bathroom. It’s also helpful to wear loose clothing and arm yourself with some soft toilet paper.

Your prep kit will also contain an electrolyte, and we urge you to drink this as the laxative can lead to some dehydration. You’re also welcome to drink as much water as you’d like the night before. 

When you go to bed, leave the light on in the bathroom as you may be up and down a few times to continue cleansing, depending upon how much is in your bowel to start with (this is why we suggest soft foods for a few days beforehand — the cleanse will be faster).

The day of your colonoscopy

On the day of your colonoscopy, we’re going to restrict you even further on what you can drink, so please follow these instructions to the letter because they can affect how you react to the sedative.

Please arrive at the hour that we indicated and come in comfortable clothes. As well, it’s a good idea to leave any valuables at home.

Once we get you comfortable, we get to work, and, before you know it, your colonoscopy is done, and you can go get yourself a celebratory meal.

If you have any questions about preparing for your colonoscopy, we invite you to contact one of our offices in Fairfax, Fair Oaks, Alexandria, Gainesville, Woodbridge, or Lansdowne, Virginia.