Sigmoidoscopy: What to Expect at Home

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Lower digestive system

Your Recovery

A sigmoidoscopy lets your doctor look inside the lower part of your large intestine. This is also called the colon. The doctor uses a lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope (or scope).

This test allows the doctor to look for small growths (called polyps), cancer, bleeding, hemorrhoids, or other problems. The doctor also may have used the scope to remove polyps. Or they may have used it to take tissue samples that need to be tested.

You shouldn't have any pain after the procedure. But it is normal to pass gas. You may have mild discomfort from having gas.

If your doctor removed polyps, you will likely need to schedule a colonoscopy to look at the whole colon.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?


  • Most people are able to return to work right away unless they have had a sedative during the procedure.
  • You may need someone to drive you home if you have had a sedative. In most cases, you can drive yourself home.


  • You can eat your normal diet.
  • Be sure to drink plenty of liquids to replace those you have lost during the preparation for the procedure.


  • You can return to normal exercise right away.


  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. You also will be given instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have new or worse belly pain.
  • You have blood in your stools.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.