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The Top First Time Colonscopy Procedure Questions Answered

What do you need to know before your first colonoscopy procedure? If you're not sure what to expect from a colon cancer screening, take a look at some questions first-time patients have about the procedure.

Is A Colonoscopy Necessary?

The answer to this question depends on several factors. These include your age, family health history, and personal health history. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), healthy adults at average risk for colorectal cancer should have their first colonoscopy when they turn 45. This means if you're 45 years old or over and have never had a colonoscopy, now is the time to schedule a procedure. 

Even though 45 is the recommended age for a first colonoscopy, this screening procedure is necessary for some younger people. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or some types of polyps, you've had some types of abdominal radiation treatments, or you have an inflammatory bowel disease, your doctor may want you to schedule a screening before you turn 45. To better understand your colonoscopy needs, talk to your medical provider. They will create a screening schedule that matches your individual genetic or health concerns and risk level.

Do Colonoscopies Hurt?

This procedure is not painful. While the idea of a long tube with a light and camera winding through your colon doesn't sound pleasant, most patients feel little to no sensation during a colonoscopy. If you're not sure how you could possibly get a colonoscopy without feeling pain, continue reading for more information on anesthesia and sedation.

Are You Awake During the Procedure?

It is possible to have a colonoscopy while you are completely awake. But this can cause some level of discomfort. Sedation can eliminate pain or any other feelings during the screening procedure. The type of anesthesia used for colonoscopies allows patients to comfortably rest.

Unlike general anesthesia, which is used for invasive surgeries, you will have a lighter type of sedation. This type of sedation (also known as conscious sedation) doesn't require the use of a ventilator machine and won't put you into a deep sleep. If needed, the doctor can easily wake you during or after the procedure. 

Can You Return To Work Immediately After the Procedure?

If you choose a no-sedation colonoscopy, it's possible that you could return to your normal activities after the screening. This isn't true for patients who have any level of sedation. The medication used to make you sleep through the procedure will leave you feeling groggy for the rest of the day. 

You will need a responsible adult to drive you home from your colonoscopy inspection procedure. This person may need to stay with you for the rest of the day. While you will need to take the procedure day off from work, most patients can return to their jobs after a 24-hour rest period. Your medical provider will explain the recovery and give you post-screening activity restriction instructions.