Aim: The key to successful construction of an ileal pouch–anal anastomosis (IPAA) following proctocolectomy in patients with ulcerative colitis or familial adenomatous polyposis is the ability of the pouch reservoir to reach the anus well vascularized and without tension. The aim of this systematic review was to provide an overview of previously described different surgical lengthening techniques to achieve adequate length for a tension-free IPAA. Method: Pubmed, Embase and Cochrane Library databases were systematically searched. Two reviewers conducted a systematic search with combinations of keywords for the surgical procedure and surgical lengthening techniques. All publications that reported one or more surgical lengthening techniques during IPAA surgery in adult patients were selected, consisting of reviews, cohort studies, case reports, human cadaver studies and expert opinions. The primary outcomes measured were the different surgical lengthening techniques and the step-by-step approach they involve that can be used during surgery to achieve adequate length for an IPAA. Results: Of 1577 records reviewed, 19 articles were included in this systematic review describing at least 1181 patients (i.e. one review, four retrospective studies, five human cadaver studies, two case reports and seven expert opinions). A total of six different surgical lengthening techniques with various subtechniques were found and described, consisting of pouch folding, construction of different types of pouches, stepladder incisions, skeletonization of vessels, division and ligation of mesenteric vessels and using an interposition vein graft. No prospective or randomized controlled trials were performed regarding this topic. Quality assessment showed a medium quality of the included studies. Conclusion: Different surgical lengthening techniques are described in a step-by-step approach to create adequate mesenteric length during IPAA surgery, in patients in whom the ileal pouch cannot reach the dentate line.