Understanding Ileostomy Reversal: A Comprehensive Guide


Ileostomy reversal is a surgical procedure to reconnect the intestines after a temporary ileostomy. This guide aims to provide a thorough understanding of ileostomy reversal, including its purpose, the procedure, recovery, and what to expect afterward. This information can help individuals who have undergone an ileostomy and are considering or preparing for a reversal.

What is Ileostomy Reversal?

An ileostomy reversal is performed after a temporary ileostomy, a surgery where the small intestine is diverted through an opening in the abdomen. The reversal procedure reconnects the small intestine to the rest of the digestive system, allowing for normal bowel movements through the anus.

Preparing for Ileostomy Reversal

  • Medical Evaluation: A thorough medical evaluation is necessary to ensure you are healthy enough for surgery and to assess if the intestines have healed enough for reconnection.

  • Understanding the Procedure: Discuss with your surgeon the specifics of the procedure, including risks, benefits, and what to expect.

  • Pre-Surgical Instructions: Follow any pre-surgical instructions from your healthcare team, such as dietary restrictions or bowel preparations.

  • Mental and Emotional Preparation: Mental and emotional readiness is vital. Consider speaking with a counselor or joining a support group to discuss any concerns or anxieties.

The Ileostomy Reversal Procedure

  • Surgical Technique: The surgery typically involves rejoining the two ends of the small intestine and closing the ileostomy site.

  • Anesthesia: General anesthesia is used, so you will be asleep during the procedure.

  • Duration and Hospital Stay: The surgery duration and length of hospital stay can vary based on individual cases and the complexity of the procedure.

  • Post-Operative Care: Immediately after surgery, you’ll receive care to manage pain and support recovery, including intravenous fluids and medications.

Recovery After Ileostomy Reversal

  • Physical Recovery: Recovery times can vary, but it’s common to spend several days in the hospital post-surgery. Full recovery may take several weeks.

  • Diet and Nutrition: Your diet will be gradually reintroduced. Initially, you may be on a liquid diet, progressing to solid foods as tolerated.

  • Managing Bowel Function: It’s normal to experience changes in bowel function initially. Frequency, consistency, and urgency can vary as the body adjusts.

  • Activity and Exercise: Follow your surgeon’s advice on resuming activities. Gradual increase in activity is recommended to avoid complications.

Life After Ileostomy Reversal

  • Long-term Expectations: Most people return to normal bowel function, but it may take time for patterns to regularize.

  • Lifestyle Adjustments: Some dietary and lifestyle adjustments might be necessary to manage changes in bowel habits.

  • Monitoring Health: Regular follow-up with your healthcare provider is important to monitor your recovery and address any concerns.

  • Emotional Well-being: Attend to your emotional well-being, as adjusting to life after reversal can be a significant transition.


Ileostomy reversal is a significant step towards restoring normal bowel function. Understanding the procedure, preparing adequately, managing the recovery process, and adjusting to life afterward are key components for a successful outcome. Remember, each individual’s experience is unique, and open communication with your healthcare team is essential for a smooth and informed journey through ileostomy reversal.

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