What to Expect After Anal Fistula Surgery?

An anal fistula is a condition that is painful and scary. It can affect the daily life of an individual. A fistula may not necessarily occur only in the genital area. It can occur anywhere or in any part of your body. However, most fistula surgeries remove the fistula that occurs in the anus or rectum.  Surgery is the procedure that helps in removing abnormal tissue. Sometimes, you may be required to remove even the surrounding area. There are various procedures available. But the most common types of anal fistula surgery are fistulotomy and fistulectomy.

Fistulotomy is a procedure that involves the removal of only the patient and is generally an outpatient procedure. Fistulectomy on the other hand is a more complex procedure. It involved the removal of not only the fistula but also the affected area. If you are suffering from anal fistula then it is essential to consult with an experienced surgeon. Thoroughly discuss your condition and ask them about the best surgical treatment options.

What is Anal Fistula surgery?

One of the most effective treatments for anal fistula is surgery. There are various types of fistula and so are the treatment options. The type of fistula will determine the type of treatment you need. One of the most common fistulas is the intersphinteric fistula. This type of fistula generally occurs between the inner and outer anal sphincters. You will be able to see or feel the fistula. Treatment for this type of fistula is as follows:

Seton drain placement: 

This procedure helps in draining the infection. The benefit of the seton drain is that it helps in reducing the chances of developing a fistula. In case you have a history of fistula removal then it may be helpful in delaying invasive surgery.


This procedure involves the removal of the fistula by cutting off the connecting tissue. The doctor will perform the procedure in an outpatient basis.


In this procedure, it involves the removal of the tract of tissue that contains the fistula and the fistula itself. As the doctor has to cut through the infected area, this procedure has a higher risk of complications.

Recovery time

As far as the recovery post-fistula surgery is concerned, the skill of the surgeon, the type of the fistula, and the overall health of the individual are the determining factors.  Even the success rate is also variable.

Since the fistulotomy is a one-day procedure, the patient can go home the same day. Although they may experience some pain and drainage generally, they are able to return to their normal activities in a day or two. The doctor will advise refraining from lifting heavy objects and sexual activities for a couple of weeks.

Fistulectomy, on the other hand, requires a longer recovery period. Since the procedure is performed under general anesthesia, the patient requires a hospital stay for a day or two to monitor. This type of surgery involves higher risks of complications. And in case there are any surgical complications then additional surgery or treatment is necessary.

Preventive Measures

Following are some of the ways that will be helpful in reducing the pain and infection associated with anal fistula.

  • Discuss the preventive measures and the recovery time with the doctor
  • Proper rest post the procedure is important
  • Seek the doctor’s advice for an alternative treatment for fistulectomy
  • Find out the expertise of the doctor  and the complication rate

Guidance to Aid Recovery

Following are some of the useful tips that might be helpful in managing the recovery period:

  • Follow your doctor’s advice to avoid sexual intercourse. Till the doctor clears you, avoid inserting anything inside the rectum or vagina.
  • Regular follow-up post-surgery is important. To ensure that the wound is healing properly, your doctor will schedule an appointment in a few weeks.
  • Include high-fiber food in your diet. You could also try taking a stool softener.
  • Drink an adequate amount of water to ensure that there is no risk of constipation.
  • If you experience symptoms like fever, increase in bleeding, unbearable pain, or pus from the wound, speak to your doctor.

What To Expect After Anal Fistula Surgery?

Irrespective of whichever type of treatment you opt for, taking proper rest is a necessity. You might have unpleasant bowel movements post-surgery. Eating high-fiber foods, drinking adequate water, and using stool softeners will be helpful. It is also normal to have slight bleeding in the bathroom.

  • After the bowel movement, instead of using toilet paper, it is best to use water or wet wipes.
  • Place a pad at the surgical site to absorb the fluids from the affected area so that it does not soil your clothes.
  • Strictly adhere to the instructions of your doctor in regard to pain management and wound care.
  • You might require a sitz bath, ice packs, etc to manage the pain and discomfort.

Hence, there are various minimally invasive and major surgical treatments available for anal fistula. Of the various types of treatments available, fistulectomy and fistulotomy are the most effective treatment with high success rates. But the downside of these procedures is longer recovery periods and potential side effects.

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