What to expect during a colonoscopy

The day of your colonoscopy is usually not a difficult one. In fact, most people report that it is the easiest part of the process.

Is Colorectal Cancer Preventable with Screening?

For you and your loved ones

Having a colonoscopy may seem like a big deal -- and it is! But that's because it can catch cancer early, not because the procedure is difficult. Be sure to follow your doctor's orders for your prep and arrive on time. Do it for you and your loved ones. 

The day of your colonoscopy

Here are some steps you will typically go through on the day of your colonoscopy.

Arrival for your appointment

You will have your procedure at an endoscopy center, hospital, or other facility. It's very important that someone comes with you who can drive you home afterwards.


Before the procedure you will:

  • Change into a hospital gown
  • Have an IV line inserted
  • Meet your anesthesia provider


Your anesthesia provider will give you medicine through your IV to sedate you before the procedure begins.

Colonoscopy begins

Once you are asleep, a thin, flexible tube equipped with a tiny video camera is inserted into your anus to look inside your colon and rectum. The exam takes about 20 to 30 minutes.

Waking up

After your colonoscopy, you will wake up in a recovery room. Other than being a little groggy, you should feel fine. 

Head home

When you are ready to be discharged, you will dress and go home. If any biopsies were taken, your doctor will let you know the results in about a week.

Give yourself a hand!

You will need to rest when you get home, so while you are taking it easy:

  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Begin eating slowly
  • Pat yourself on the back for getting your screening!

Before and after a colonoscopy

Brooks Bell, Colorectal Cancer Alliance Board Member, visits an endoscopy suite for a follow-up colonoscopy and records everything! She even shares a dream she had during the procedure.

laparoscopic surgery with doctors

Top resources