My Colostomy Reversal One Year After (Ostomy Reconnect)
My colostomy reversal procedure was exactly one year to the day I had surgery for a temporary colostomy.
At the time, my doctor advised that because my colon needed ample time to heal well and grow back, he preferred I wait for a year before having a colostomy reconnect. I felt alright with the advice, knowing that he didn't want to rush it.
And so it was—twelve months later, and I had reverse colostomy surgery (colostomy take-down).
With this reversal, my stoma was no longer necessary, and so, was sealed up.
Why You May Get a Colostomy Reversal
When a colostomy is reversible, the reasons could be that:
- Trauma and its subsequent damage to the abdomen and the colon is not that critical and the damage to the colon is minimal.
- The colon has healed completely and can now be connected back.
- A colon cancer patient has healed well enough (after the initial surgery) and has fully recovered from other treatments like chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
The thing to know is that your surgeon will not carry out a reversal unless you are in good health, and not until you have fully recovered from the effects of the colostomy operation.
The procedure is much simpler and relatively straightforward and can take any time from sixty minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the complexity of the initial procedure.
In my own case, it took around an hour and forty-five minutes.
Reversal Procedure for a Colostomy
The period between the procedure and its reversal varies from a couple of months to a few years, but the surgeon is always in a better position to advise you as to when your stoma reversal shall be carried out.
After your colon is sufficiently healed to your doctor's satisfaction, it is time for the procedure. You will find that in most cases, it is the doctor that performed the initial surgery that will carry out your colostomy reversal. And it is more likely than not, performed at the same hospital. My temporary colostomy was reversed by the same surgeon and I was attended to by the same stoma ET nurse.
The procedure simply involves pushing the stoma back in and reconnecting the healed colon to it (your digestive tract) using sutures that will dissolve in the body within three months or thereabouts.
The reconnection allows your digestive tract to function as it did before colostomy surgery was carried out.
Most patients are well enough to leave the hospital within 4 to 8 days, depending on the type of colostomy procedure that needs a reversal but I spent 9 days, simply because it took a bit longer for my bowel to start to function. However, it may take less time for some patients and a bit more for others.
By this time, the stoma area has been stitched shut with dissolvable sutures or small metal staples that are eventually removed after complete healing of the spot which may take a minimum of two weeks.
Removal of stitches or staples is carried out in the outpatient department of your hospital.
After your reversal, faeces is once again eliminated through the rectum. Initially, there may be constipation or the reverse, loose stool which may be frequent, but with time, the body and its digestive system should settle back to normal.
Your initial diet after reverse colostomy must consist of lighter foods in small portions. Gradually, you can revert back to your regular diet subject to your health and condition.
I was checked and monitored constantly for any signs or symptoms of complications and closely observed for signs of infection which may indicate an internal leak of waste into the stomach.
Tests were carried out to ensure my recovery is normal and acceptable. There was also very frequent checks for vital signs too.
How Long Does it Take to Fully Recover?
It may take several weeks to recover and return to normal activities, usually between four to six weeks but the exact time depends on the type of operation they performed on you, whether ascending transverse or descending colostomy surgery.
However, it also depends on whether you have other medical conditions, your determination, and your attitude, and whether or not you have post-surgery complications.
Latest research studies by the University of Michigan Health System tell us that temporary colostomy patients are generally not as accepting and happy as patients with a permanent colostomy.
Patients with a temporary colostomy hope and yearn for a life without a colostomy, and many postpone getting on with their lives until they have reverse colostomy surgery.
On the other hand, patients with permanent colostomies quickly realise there is no changing their condition so they deal with it squarely and move on happily with their lives.
Questions & Answers
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