Getting a colonoscopy can be a scary thing, especially if you don’t know what to expect from the procedure. You may be wondering how long does colonoscopy prep take to work or what is involved in the process? Here’s a closer look.
A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows doctors to see the inside of your rectum and colon. It can detect inflamed tissues, ulcers, and growths and is generally used to spot early signs of colorectal cancer.
The process of colonoscopy prep takes several days. About 7 days before the procedure, your doctor may ask you to start taking blood thinners like aspirin or ibuprofen. You should also clear your multivitamin with your doctor in case there’s anything in it that might interfere with your prep, such as iron.
For most patients, the next step will be to take laxative tablets beginning 2 days before the procedure is scheduled. Your doctor will also prescribe you a “prep”, which is a liquid you will mix together and drink to help clean you out. Follow the mixing instructions and take as directed. The prep will take about 60-90 minutes to really kick in. Don’t make any plans during this period of time, as you will be making regular trips to the restroom.
You are only able to drink clear liquids for 24-hours before the procedure—this means no milk, or anything with color. Some doctors will let you chew on hard candy, but it has to be clear.
The day of the colonoscopy, you’ll usually be asked to stop drinking anything about 2 hours before the procedure is scheduled to start.
The process itself involves lying on your side while a doctor uses a long tube with a camera on the tip to examine your rectum and anus. You will be given a sedative or medication to manage the pain. In all, it should take about 30-60 minutes and recovery time is a couple of hours to a day afterwards.
So how long does a colonoscopy prep take to work? For most people, it’s about 60-90 minutes, though the process of preparing for the procedure starts about a week beforehand.