A stoma is formed with the loop of bowel, which the surgeon brings to the surface of the abdomen. Based on the type of ostomy, a stoma is created on the colon or the small intestine. The patient has to wear an ostomy bag over the stoma to collect feces or urine. With a permanent stoma, a patient has to stick with the ostomy care regimen for the rest of his life. A temporary stoma, on the other hand, is reversed after the diseased part of the intestinal tract heals.
Stoma reversal surgery involves reconnecting the stoma, which is a piece of the bowel, with the remaining part of the colon or small intestine. The doctor then closes the stoma site using sutures. The reversal procedure for both colostomy and ileostomy is the same.
Your doctor will recommend the reversal of your stoma only if he is confident about you regaining your bowel movement. He will run some tests to check if your bowel has recovered, and that your sphincter muscles are strong enough to help you deal with the bowel movements.
Who can have stoma reversal?
You can consider yourself a good candidate for stoma reversal surgery if you have enough of the rectum left intact, have sufficient muscle strength in your sphincters, don’t have any disease left in the colon or other areas of the intestinal tract, or are in good overall health. The optimal time for stoma reversal surgery is three to twelve months, depending on when your colon heals.
Stoma reversal surgery
Generally, stoma reversal surgery is not as complicated as ostomy surgery, unless you have any other complications, such as a hernia. It can be open surgery, or a laparoscopic one, depending on the case complexity. Your doctor will tell you which option is appropriate for you. Generally, the surgical procedure for stoma reversal takes 1-2 hours.
After the stoma reversal
You cannot expect immediate normalcy in your bowel functions after the stoma reversal. The disconnected part of your bowel had to remain out of action for several months, so you have to be ready to wait for a few more months before your bowel starts functioning again.
That said, you are going to have to stick with a liquid diet for 24 hours after the surgery. After that, you can switch to soft foods. You can move around to stimulate the bowel movement. You might have to stay in the hospital for 3-5 days. During that period, you will have access to the highly trained ostomy care staff that can help you with the critical recovery process during your stay at the hospital.
When you may start with the normal diet and a bit intense physical activity depends on how soon your intestinal tract regains strength. By following the doctor’s instructions, you can ensure a quicker recovery.