Are you one of the many people who have a temporary stoma? At some point, your doctor might recommend reversing the operation to restore your normal digestive function. This procedure is also known as ostomy reversal surgery. However, while it is possible to have stoma reversal, not everyone is a candidate for this surgical procedure.
Some aspects influence whether or not you can get a stoma reversal. Luckily, this article will discuss all you need to know about what ostomy is for and the benefits of reversal surgery. You may use the following information as your guide to help you throughout your decision-making process.
What Is Ostomy For?
An ostomy is a surgical operation that offers an alternative way for the urine or stool to leave the body. Since sections of the urinary or digestive systems are malfunctioning, proper rerouting of bodily waste from its normal course is necessary. A successful ostomy procedure allows the patient to get rid of their waste products by passing them through a hole made outside the abdominal area. This opening is what many people call a stoma.
During ostomy surgery, the surgeon separates a portion of the colon and attaches it to a pouch that collects the body’s excretions. Depending on the patient’s condition, ostomy surgery can either be permanent or reversible.
What Is Ostomy Reversal?
Ostomy surgery can occur at any age. It may be necessary for several medical conditions and can be a life-saving procedure. However, the conventional ostomy practices can become a challenging experience as it hinders a person’s capacity to perform activities.
Luckily, your surgeon can perform a stoma reversal following the initial colostomy surgery. This procedure involves the restoration of the bowel placement and helps improve a patient’s quality of life.
How Is Stoma Reversal Carried Out?
The kind of ostomy you had determines how your surgeon will perform the stoma reversal surgery. Generally, it is a straightforward process usually done in two methods. The first one involves making large incisions that require a more extended recovery period. On the other hand, you can opt for the second technique, which uses more minor cuts and does not take as long to heal.
Basically, in stoma reversal surgery, the surgeon rejoins the colon by stapling it back together. Afterward, stitching helps seal the area of the abdomen where the stoma was.
Who Can Have Stoma Reversal?
Unfortunately, stoma reversal surgery is only applicable to those who are in good health and have fully recovered from their previous operation.
In some cases, a temporary ostomy may be helpful for some digestive issues such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other bowel injuries. After sorting out your condition, the surgeon can reconnect the bowel to the rectum.
However, if the concern requires the surgeon to remove a part of the colon, stoma reversal surgery can be a more complex process. To reverse the ostomy procedure, the medical team needs to consider several factors.
Other than a complete resolution of the underlying colon concerns, stoma reversal is only possible if:
- The patient is healthy enough to undergo another surgical procedure.
- There is enough healthy colon and part of the rectum that can support bowel function.
- Bowel and sphincter muscles are capable of controlling stool movement.
If the patient does not qualify in any of the above factors, stoma reversal surgery can be a risky procedure. It could lead to incontinence and stool leakage, which will affect the patient’s overall health. To ensure that you meet each specific area, you can ask your medical provider for an in-depth analysis of your condition.
When Can I Have Stoma Reversal?
We understand how having a stoma can affect your day-to-day activities. However, reversal surgery is not something that you should be rushing. For the reversal to function appropriately, the anal and bowel muscles must be working well.
According to experts, a complete colostomy recovery takes at least six to eight weeks. But in some cases, the healing process can take up to a year. Therefore, the best time for a colostomy reversal depends on your ability to heal.
However, if the surgical swelling does not seem to resolve, the possibility for stoma reversal could be on the line. Waiting too long can cause prolonged inactivity and lead to muscle weakness. As a result, the colon might not function normally.
What Should I Expect After Stoma Reversal Surgery?
After stoma reversal, it is customary to deal with minor concerns with your bowel movement. Since the initial surgery took out a portion of your intestine, it is crucial to remember that the restoration process might not come out as smoothly as expected.
It is possible to experience loose stools, unexpected bowel urges, and discomfort or incontinence. More so, other risks of infection are also possible such as blockages or scar tissue formation.
Recovering After Ostomy Reversal
Complete recovery after ostomy reversal could take a few weeks or months. It is also possible that you’ll need to take the same care you did during your ostomy. Your doctor will discourage you from doing the heavy lifting, bending, and other strenuous tasks.
It usually takes three to ten days to know when it is safe to resume regular tasks and habits for most people. However, it would be best to wait for your doctor before doing anything else.
Like most surgical procedures, side effects may come unexpectedly. Nevertheless, it is still possible to lower its chances of happening. Following the necessary recovery, techniques are vital to prevent these complications.
Maintain a healthy diet
Perhaps one of the most important things to change after ostomy reversal is to improve your diet. By doing so, your bowel movement will work well and reduce the risks of complications. After the surgery, your digestive system might become a little more sensitive than usual. Avoiding large meals and late-night snacks could help limit the contents of your stomach.
According to dietitians, steering away from the following foods could help with your recovery:
- Spicy food
- Citrus fruits
- Large fatty foods
- Flatulence-inducing foods
- Alcohol and carbonated beverages
These types of food groups have higher chances of irritating the gut, so tracking down your intake would aid in the healing process.
Observe proper hygiene
Many people experience inflammation and soreness around their anal region after an ostomy reversal. This condition should improve as your body gets used to its normal functions. Observing proper hygiene after every bowel movement helps strengthen your skin’s reaction.
You can do so by washing the skin around your anus with warm water and patting it dry with a soft cloth. Afterward, you may apply a barrier cream to reduce swelling. Remember to avoid using baby wipes, scented toilet tissues, or talcum powder, as these can cause more irritation in the area.
Perform light exercises
Your doctor might suggest performing some pelvic floor exercises to avoid leakages caused by watery stool. After three to four months after surgery, you can start performing light activities. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will help improve your rectal capacity and allow you to hold your stool better. Additionally, Pilates, Yoga, and Kegel exercises will help you control your bladder, especially when sneezing, laughing, or coughing.
Seek support with your healthcare providers
Dealing with bowel concerns can be an embarrassing topic. Coping in this situation is frustrating and might cause the patient to have low self-esteem. However, it is crucial to keep in mind that excretion and digestive processes are normal functions of the human body. Talking to your care team or your doctor can help you with the issues you are facing. They can help you learn new ways to sort out your concerns.
As most surgical procedures do, follow-up visits to your surgeon are crucial. It would be best to make sure to come to all your appointments to get a proper assessment and evaluation of your recovery. Professional healthcare providers are well-trained to detect early signs of complications and prevent worsening of the conditions.
It is also ideal to know your current status and the necessary medication you need to take for a complete recovery.
What If I Don’t Want Ostomy Reversal?
Choosing not to have an ostomy reversal could be the best option for some people. Stoma reversal can come with certain risks, and it is necessary to be sure that you’re aware of the life ahead of you. In some cases, it can be a minor procedure with a near-normal restoration to your bowel function. For others, retaining the colostomy can improve your quality of life. Many people come to terms with their ostomy and learn to live with it.
Before making your decision, you should seek advice from an expert. You may also look for a second opinion because it may reveal facts you hadn’t considered before. It will also help you be more secure in your decision by reinforcing the points you already have. It is best to understand your doctor’s advice to push you to choose the right choice.