Colonoscopy 101 and How to Prep Like a Champ




A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows your doctor to see the lining of your large intestine (colon) so they can find any changes or abnormalities

A thin tube with a tiny camera at the end of it called a colonoscope is inserted into the rectum and slowly advanced up to the cecum (the beginning of the colon)

Sometimes your doctor will see polyps or other abnormal tissue and in that case, they may remove or biopsy those regions during the colonoscopy


If you’re having specific symptoms (e.g. abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, chronic constipation or diarrhea, or other intestinal problems.

To screen for colon cancer: People at average risk for colon cancer should get a colonoscopy starting at age 45. If you have a family history of colon cancer, your doctor might recommend you get one earlier.

To follow up on polyps: If you had polyps in a previous colonoscopy, your doctor might recommend a follow-up colonoscopy to screen for additional polyps to reduce your risk for colon cancer


***Disclaimer: Always follow the directions from your doctor. Some physicians have different instructions and if you’re not sure, ask!

Your doctor will provide you with a list of instructions prior to your procedure. Read these a few days before your “prep day” so that you have time to prepare.

3-5 days leading up to your procedure, you might be asked to start a low-residue diet. In other words, you’ll want to avoid high fiber foods for a few days as they can clog the colonoscope.

The day before your procedure is “prep day”. You might be allowed a light breakfast before 9 AM but otherwise, you’ll start a clear liquid diet.


***Disclaimer: Always follow the directions from your doctor. Some physicians have different instructions and if you’re not sure, ask! In general, you’ll want to avoid anything red, blue or purple in color.


  • Chicken or beef broth (I get wonton soup & remove the wonton…it has more flavor than canned broth)

  • Pure Green Wake Up Call Juice (Apple, Lemon, Ginger & Cayenne) or another cold pressed juice

  • White, yellow and green gummy bears

  • Diet Ginger Ale

  • Mango, Lemon or Pineapple Italian Ices or Ice Pops

  • Warm Apple Cider

  • Starbucks Iced Green Tea with Honey



  • Jello, Lemonade or Crystal Light, Gatorade or Powerade, Iced Tea, Black tea or coffee, White Cranberry Juice, Apple Juice, Clear Sodas


Note: If your procedure is later in the day, you may have to do half the prep the night before and half the morning of your procedure. This is why I always try to get the earliest appointment available so I can get it over with!

Every doctor uses a different prep and it may vary by your insurance coverage. Follow the directions specific to your prep.


I’ve used various different preps ranging from pretty bad to terrible. This time, I used Clenpiq and it was by far the easiest prep I’ve done.

  • Clenpiq is a “low volume” prep which means you’ll be chugging down a lot less liquid (Two 5.4 fl oz bottles in this case, no mixing required)

  • To put this into perspective, some preps are 270 fl oz of liquid

  • I pinch my nose while drinking the prep and then chase with diet ginger ale

  • I drank one bottle at 4:30 PM followed by 5 cups of water over the next few hours

  • I took 3 dulcolax (5 mg) tablets at 9 PM and then the 2nd bottle of Clenpiq followed by 4 cups of water

  • Clenpiq was not covered by my insurance but I chose to pay out of pocket. I googled “Clenpiq coupon” and it brought the cost down to $120.


No liquids 4 hours before the procedure (if you take meds, you can take them with a small sip of water)- I wait until after to take my meds but mine aren’t super time-sensitive

  • When you arrive at the center, anyone with reproductive potential will be asked to give a urine sample for a pregnancy test

  • Next, you’ll be escorted to an area where you can change into a hospital gown and socks (You’ll be given a place to store your belongings until you’re done)

  • Now it’s time for vitals (blood pressure, pulse, weight, etc)

    • Weight is needed for anesthesia but if you’re not comfortable knowing your weight, you can ask to be weighed backward

  • After your vitals are done, the IV will be placed for sedation.

  • The doctor and anesthesiologist will usually come by to tell you about the procedure and get consent

  • When they’re ready for you, you’ll be brought into the procedure room and the anesthesiologist will talk to you about the sedation.

  • You’ll be turned on your side and once the sedation starts, you won’t remember anything until you wake up in recovery!

  • The procedure itself takes ~20 minutes and once it’s done you’ll be taken to recovery where you’ll wake up

  • A nurse will usually come in and offer you something to drink or eat and then the doctor will come by to discuss your results with you

  • If a polyp or biopsy was taken then they’ll sent that out to pathology and your doctor will go over the results with you in ~2 weeks after your procedure

  • You might have some cramping or bloating after the procedure because they do push air through the colon during the procedure but you’ll release that through the day and I usually feel much better a few hours after


Pack your bag the night before so you don’t forget anything.


  • ID, Insurance Card, Credit Card, Vaccine Card and/or Covid Test Results (if required)

  • Invisalign Case

  • Glasses case or change of contact lenses

  • Bottle of water and a snack for after the procedure

  • Meds (if you haven’t taken them before the procedure)


  • Wear comfy clothes that are easy to change in and out of

  • Don’t wear jewelry to the procedure- you’ll have to take it off anyway and you don’t want to risk losing it

  • If you wear Invisalign, bring a case because you’ll be asked to remove them

  • If you wear contact lenses, bring a second pair or wear glasses because you’ll be asked to remove them


  • I always try to get the first appointment of the day that way you can get in and out

  • Get your prep filled from the pharmacy a few days before your procedure just in case you have any issues filling it

  • Make sure you have someone to pick you up. If you don’t have anyone to take you, your doctor’s office can help you arrange a service

  • I like to stay busy the day before my colonoscopy (prep day) to keep my mind off my hunger

  • If at all possible, I try to clear my schedule the day of my colonoscopy to give myself time to rest if I’m out of it from the anesthesia

  • Take a shower right when you get home and put on fresh clothes (I like to put on some makeup- it makes me feel better!)

  • No exercise the day of your procedure, you can resume activity the following day

  • Give yourself a pat on the back! You just did something so important for your health!