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Temporary Stoma and Colostomy Reversal

Updated on October 27, 2017
AloBeDa profile image

Adjusting to a colostomy is tough. For me, it was like a horrible dream. But with a positive mindset, I soon adjusted wonderfully.

A temporary colostomy is a procedure whereby the colon has been operated upon by cutting and closing up temporarily, and because of its being disabled, a bypass for the expulsion of feces is created through a stoma opening in the abdomen.

At this time, the colon needs some time to heal and grow back, after which reverse colostomy surgery (colostomy take-down) can be carried out on a patient. And with this reversal, your stoma will no longer be necessary.

Why You May Need a Temporary Colostomy

When a colostomy is reversible, the reasons for this surgical procedure are mainly carried out due to the following reasons:

  1. Trauma and its subsequent damage to the abdomen and subsequently, the colon.
  2. Cancer of the colon
  3. Other diseases or conditions that need intestinal tract surgery.

Carrying out the procedure can take anytime from 1 to 3 hours depending on the type of colostomy surgery being performed; ascending, transverse or descending, the condition of the patient in terms of health, and the extent of the surgical procedure.

Before Your Stoma Reversal

Throughout the duration of your temporary colostomy, and after mentally accepting your condition, you will have become adept at caring for your stoma by ensuring it is clean at all times, especially around its edge, and being adept at changing your colostomy bags whenever required.

And even though you don't have to enjoy the task, because it is a temporary colostomy, you’ll have to accept them for the time being. Care and management are essential, whether the colostomy is reversible or permanent and it must be managed well until it is time to carry out the reversal.

Reversal Procedure

In most cases, it is the surgeon that performed the surgery that does the colostomy reversal.

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 advice as to when a stoma reversal will be carried out.

After your colon is sufficiently healed to your surgeon’s satisfaction, it is time for reverse colostomy.

Reverse colostomy simply involves reconnecting the healed colon to your digestive tract using sutures that will dissolve in the body within three months or thereabouts.

The surgical reconnection allows your digestive tract to function as it did before colostomy surgery was carried out and will more likely than not be performed at the same hospital, by the same surgeon, and attended to briefly by the same stoma ET nurse.

After a Colostomy Closure

After surgery, you may have to wait for some days for normal bowel movements to commence.

By this time, the stoma has been sealed, again with dissolvable sutures, or small metal staples that are eventually removed after complete healing which may take a minimum of two weeks. Removal of stitches or staples will be carried out in the outpatient department of your hospital.

After your reversal, feces is once again eliminated through the rectum and even though your initial bowel movements are loose and may be frequent, with time your body and its digestive system should settle back to normal.

Your initial diet after reverse colostomy must consist of lighter foods in small portions, and gradually, you can revert back to your regular diet subject to your health and condition.

Post-Surgery Monitoring

You will be checked and monitored constantly for any signs or symptoms of complications. You will be closely observed for signs of infection which may indicate an internal leak of waste into your stomach. Tests will also be carried out to ensure that your recovery is normal and acceptable. There will be very frequent checks for vital signs too.

You will be encouraged to cough lightly without putting any stress on your waist/abdomen, move around often (very important), and take deep breaths frequently. These activities help a long way in preventing complications from setting in.

There may be some bleeding from your stoma which will be evident when you start to change your colostomy bag but this will be closely monitored so, any sign of increased bleeding will be investigated and promptly treated.

Most colostomy patients are always concerned about if and when their stoma will start to work and will be just as anxious as the doctor and nurses. Once your stoma starts to work, it is a great step towards a full recovery.

How Long Does it Take to Fully Recover?

It usually takes between two to six weeks to fully recover after surgery 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.

For the first couple of weeks, after you get home, your Stoma Nurse will pay you visits. He/she will dress your wounds if you have any and continue to tutor you on how to use your colostomy bags and the other stoma supplies.

Accepting your condition is the first bold step towards your full recovery and it will help you better if you accept your condition as a challenge. Millions of colostomy patients manage their stomas well and so can you. Think about it this way, with your procedure, you’ve been offered a new lease on life.

There is no reason why you can't live a wonderful fun filled life with a colostomy and once you have passed the acceptance stage and have become adept at stoma management, it will be a new beginning.

Recent Studies

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.

For the temporary colostomy patient, they are happy it's all over. No more appliances, supplies, colostomy bags, deodorant sprays, "bag ballooning" and funny sounds.

© 2010 Alobeda

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    • AloBeDa profile image

      Alobeda 2 years ago from The Global Village

      Pauline, it is only your doctor/surgeon that will let you know if your colostomy is reversible or not.

      After your surgery, he or she will tell you if your ostomy is a temporary one or permanent one. This is what happened in my case.

      Talk to your doctor and see what he or she says.

      Hope this helps you.

    • profile image

      pauline 2 years ago

      I want to ask if is possible for me to revised after two operations. I had operation in 2004 normal in2006 n onther 2015 but still born by operation I straliza but now um regetting. Can I revise