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Ostomy Lifestyle Question (December 2016) – Reversal Surgery Concerns

December, 2016

Subject: reversal of stoma surgery

Message Body:

I have had a ostomy for 8 months and now looking at a reversal surgery. What are the things I should be concerned about? What is the recovery time? Is this procedure common?


Stoma reversal depends on the individual and the nature of the surgery. Colostomy and ileostomy reversals are relatively common, whereas urostomy reversals are less frequent.

The time between temporary stoma formation and reversals differs between different surgeons, hospitals and your individual healing time; it can be as little as one month, but often it is between three and 12 months. However, there is no normal.

It is important to understand and be realistic about how you will feel after your reversal, so you don’t become dispirited. It is an individual thing, and for some folks, they experience a lengthy period of disrupted bowel function, and being prepared for this will help you make the necessary adjustments and not become disappointed. Example of some complications can be small bowel obstruction and infection.

Most people are well enough after stoma reversal surgery to leave hospital 3-10 days after surgery, depending on which procedure you had reversed.

It’s likely to take some time before you resume normal bowel function and routine. Some people experience constipation or diarrhoea, although this normally resolves with time.

Some people may experience a sore anus after the reversal. This should improve as the anus becomes used to having stool pass through it again. It may help to thoroughly wash the skin around your anus with warm water after every bowel movement, then pat it dry with a soft cloth, and apply a common barrier cream. Avoid baby wipes, talcum powder or scented toilet tissues, as they can further the irritation.

Other possible problems include an increased frequency of urgency to go to the toilet, excessive flatulence and some bowel incontinence or leakage.

As your digestive system will be sensitive after stoma reversal, you may be recommended to avoid eating late at night. Avoiding large meals and eating little and often instead may also help. Certain foods are also more likely to irritate the gut, and it may be helpful to limit, and introduce these foods over a period of time:

  • citrus fruits – such as grapefruits and oranges
  • spicy foods – such as curries
  • large fatty meals
  • vegetables that increase flatulence – such as cabbage and onions
  • large amounts of alcohol or fizzy drinks

During the first few months during your recovery you will experience going to the toilet frequently during the course of a day, sometimes with sensations or urgency and soreness. For most people over time the body evens out and your body settles down to what will feel normal for you.

As your reversal surgery approaches it is very important that you consult and meet with your stoma care nurse (Enterostomal Therapy Nurse – ET Nurse), physician and surgical team. They are a valuable source of advice and information. Note down any questions you would like answered, and take the questions along to your meetings.

If you do not have an ET Nurse, (These are specialized nurses experienced in assessing/diagnosing stoma problems, providing proper equipment and stoma care solutions, and because they deal with ostomates of all ages, genders and physical status, they would be the experienced professionals who can provide you with the individual care and attention.)

To find an ET Nurse in your location,  go to (this website)

On the top bar menu you will see the Support category, click on this.

There will be a drop down menu and you will see Find an E.T. Nurse, click and follow the instructions.

Your stoma was required, now you are considering reversal. By meeting with your experienced professional health care team, asking your questions, getting the answers you need, you will take informed control of your reversal decision, surgery and recovery.

Wishing you the best, and a speedy recovery!

Our friends over at Nurses Specialized In Wound, Ostomy And Continence Canada [NSWOCC] (formerly called The Canadian Association for Enterostomal Therapy (CAET)) have renamed their handy look-up page on their website. It was formerly called “Find An ET Nurse” and is now called “Find a NSWOC“. Click on the image to the left or link here to go to their site.




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