Preparing for Your First Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy is one of the most effective tools to prevent, diagnose and treat colon cancer. Each year, roughly one in 20 Americans receive a colon cancer diagnosis, but the rates of death from colon cancer have declined for several decades.

Colonoscopy — screening capable of detecting abnormal colon growths before they have a chance to develop into cancer — is partly responsible for the drop in colon cancer deaths. While colonoscopies are important health screenings that can save lives, preparing for one isn’t usually on everyone’s list of favorite things to do. Here are our tips on how to have an easier colonoscopy prep.

It’s not as bad as you think

You may have heard horror stories about colonoscopy prep, but the team at Rockwall Surgical Associates is here to ease your concerns by letting you know that it’s not as unpleasant as you may think. A good prep plays a vital role in a successful colonoscopy, making it important for you to prepare properly.

The purpose of colonoscopy preparation is to completely empty your bowels so the doctor can spot small growths, polyps, and signs of colon cancer. Bowels that aren’t completely cleaned out can make it easier to miss abnormalities.

Perform your colonoscopy prep exactly as ordered

Our No. 1 tip for preparing for your first colonoscopy is to perform your prep as ordered. Any shortcut or deviation may interfere with colon cancer detection.

Following your preparation instructions exactly increases the chances that your doctor can find and remove abnormal growths, some of which may be difficult to spot. Good prep also lowers the chances that you need to repeat the screening.

Follow a clear liquid diet the day before

You need to avoid all solid foods and follow a clear liquid diet the day before your colonoscopy. It’s also important to avoid consuming anything red, orange, or purple. Here are a few ideas for your clear liquid diet:

Aim to have around 8 ounces of fluids every hour while you’re awake. Doing so keeps you hydrated and helps you meet your daily caloric needs.

Ask about different preparation laxatives

Colonoscopy preps are available in a variety of flavors, forms, and volumes. Some require that you drink a significant volume of laxatives and certain fluids. Work with your doctor to find the preparation that’s right for you.

Plan ahead for prep day

Getting ready ahead of time for this prep day before your procedure can increase your overall comfort throughout the colonoscopy process. The preparation fluid cleans out your bowels, which requires trips to the bathroom throughout the day. Arrange to be home during your prep.

It’s also helpful to purchase soft toilet tissue and ointment to soothe potential skin irritation. Shopping for your clear liquid diet ahead of time ensures that you have plenty of tasty liquids available when you need them.

Cut back on fiber

Reducing your fiber intake a few days before your colonoscopy can help you have an easier time emptying your bowels. Cut back on whole grains, raw vegetables, and other high-fiber foods like beans and cabbage. Tweaking your diet three to four days before your prep can make the process easier.


Colon cancer often causes no symptoms in its early stages, making colonoscopy screening an important way to detect it early. For more information about how to get the most benefit out of your colonoscopy screening, contact one of our four locations to schedule an appointment. In addition to answering your questions, our providers aim to reduce your anxiety about the colonoscopy process.

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