As an eBay/Amazon Partner, I may be compensated if you make a purchase - at no additional cost to you.

What is a colostomy reversal?

A colostomy reversal is a surgical procedure that involves reconnecting the colon to the rectum after a colostomy has been performed. A colostomy is a surgical procedure that creates an opening in the abdominal wall through which the colon is diverted, and stool is collected in a pouch outside the body.

Colostomy is usually performed to treat conditions such as colorectal cancer, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or trauma to the colon. Once the underlying condition has been treated, and the colon has healed, a colostomy reversal can be performed to restore the natural passage of stool through the rectum and anus.

The colostomy reversal surgery involves rejoining the ends of the colon that were previously disconnected during the colostomy procedure. This is usually done by removing the colostomy and the stoma (the opening in the abdominal wall) and reconnecting the healthy portions of the colon. The surgery may be done using open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, or robotic surgery, depending on the individual case.

After the colostomy reversal, the patient may experience some discomfort, bloating, and changes in bowel movements. However, most people recover fully within a few weeks, and the long-term outlook is generally positive, with the restoration of normal bowel function.

If you have an interim colostomy, a future surgery will be needed to undo it at a future date. But this reversal operation can only be done when you are in a good state of health and have healed sufficiently, usually no less than three months after the original surgery. If you need additional treatment, such as chemotherapy, or have not completely recuperated from the first surgery, the reversal may have to be delayed for a longer period. Nonetheless, there is no established time limit for having a colostomy reversal, and some people can live with their colostomy for many years prior to undergoing the process.

Reversing a loop colostomy is usually an uncomplicated process where a cut is made around the stoma in order to give the doctor access to the interior of the abdomen. Then, the upper part of the colon is reconnected with the remaining part. Although an end colostomy can be reversed too, it necessitates a bigger incision to locate and connect the two pieces of the colon. This kind of surgery takes more time to heal, and there is a greater likelihood of complications.

Generally, people are released from the hospital between three to ten days after the colostomy reversal operation. Nevertheless, it may take some time for the bowel movements to return to normal, and some individuals may face constipation or diarrhea, however these issues should gradually improve over time. It is quite common to feel a sore backside after the reversal, but this distress should subside as you become accustomed to passing waste through the anus again.

Subsequent to every bowel movement, it is suggested to rinse the skin around your anus with warm water, dry it gently with a delicate cloth, and put on a protective cream. It is wise to stay away from baby wipes, talcum powder, or fragranced toilet papers, as they may further inflame the skin. Other possible issues may include needing to go to the restroom more often or urgently than normal, passing gas, and some bowel incontinence or seepage.

Even though a colostomy reversal is usually not as serious as the initial surgery, it still requires several weeks to recover and resume regular activities. After a colostomy reversal, your digestive system may be delicate, and it may be beneficial to refrain from large meals and eating late at night. It is also suggested to consume small, frequent meals and to limit or avoid certain foods that may irritate the gut, such as citrus fruits, spicy foods, substantial fatty meals, vegetables that cause flatulence, and plentiful amounts of alcohol or fizzy drinks.