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Recovering after an Ostomy Reversal Surgery

Recovering after an Ostomy Reversal Surgery
Kevin Cleary

An ostomy surgery, ileostomy, or colostomy requires an incision in the abdominal wall to expel waste through an opening called a stoma. The location of the stoma is dependent upon the type of ostomy you have. An ileostomy is located in the large intestines, while a colostomy is located in the smaller intestines. While some ostomies are permanent, there are occasions when ostomy surgery is a temporary condition. This can lead to ostomy reversal surgery. Here is all that you need to know for recovering from ileostomy/colostomy reversal surgery.

Temporary Ostomates

Yes, there are conditions that require a permanent ostomy (ileostomy, colostomy, or urostomy), but these surgeries can be temporary due to medical conditions or care. There are plenty of reasons for an ostomy to be performed, and some address potentially temporary conditions. They can be:

  • Cancer
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Diverticulitis
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Trauma or injury
  • Constipation

I myself have had a family member who, while treating cancer, had to have a temporary ostomy while treating cancer. After healing from the original surgery and treatments, the ostomy was reversed. Yes, this is major surgery and each ostomate needs to decide on their own if it’s right for them.

Ostomy Reversal Surgery Means…

So, you’re an ostomate who has resolved the need for a temporary ostomy…now what? What should you expect from ostomy reversal surgery? The procedure is pretty straightforward. First, an incision is made near the stoma. Secondly, the remaining sections of your colon will be reattached to each other, and lastly, the incision site will be closed. 

Understanding the recovery from the surgery can help you make the proper decision for yourself. Hospital stays associated with ileostomy/colostomy reversal surgery can vary from patient to patient, but the average hospital stay can include 3-10 days. Your doctor will ensure that you can properly expel waste/gas before you’re discharged. Since everyone’s recovery is a little different, these are general guidelines. Some things to expect before you become “regular” can include - 

  • Loose stool and/or constipation
  • Urgent bowel movements
  • Need to go more often
  • Hard to tell the difference between gas and stool
  • The feeling of an incomplete bowel movement

Remember, each individual ostomy patient recovers at a different rate. These symptoms can last a few weeks, but if they persist after these first weeks, you should contact your ostomy nurse or doctor to see how to reduce them.

Your Post-Ostomy Reversal Diet

Your ostomy (ileostomy or colostomy) affects your digestive system, so when you put the plumbing back together the way it was, so to speak, it will take some time to get back to your regular diet. Right after surgery, it is a good time to avoid foods that can upset your stomach and digestive system. Foods to avoid can be

  • Acidic or citrus fruits
  • Spicy foods
  • Gassy vegetables
  • Foods high in fat
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine

As your digestive system returns to normal, it is recommended that you eat smaller meals more frequently instead of fewer, larger meals. Your goal should be a healthy, balanced diet until your appetite returns to normal, and if you suspect some foods are problematic, try to avoid them!!

Ostomy Reversal Wound Care

As you can imagine, any surgery will result in a wound care plan for optimal healing. Your ostomy or wound care nurse and you should develop a comprehensive wound care plan that can help your ostomy reversal wound heal quicker. The biggest hindrance to recovery can be infection. Be on the lookout for signs of infection that can show up with symptoms such as:

  • Increased pain
  • Swelling/inflammation
  • Wound discharge

For the first week, you should keep the wound dressed and, obviously, clean. You should examine your wound daily for any negative signs of infection or improper healing.

A Return to Normal Activities

After your hospital stay, I’m sure you’ll be anxious to get back to your normal everyday activities, which could include exercising. Easy cowboy!! The saying is “slow and steady wins the race” for a reason. Your return to activity should be slow at first and build up slowly. Some recovery exercise guidelines include:

  • Walking as soon as possible
  • Set realistic goals
  • Increase activities slowly
  • Work with a physical therapist or ostomy nurse for exercise limits

Recovering from any surgery requires compliance and patience in order for any recovery program to be effective. Visit HPFY for any post-ostomy reversal wound care or exercise needs. You don’t want to rush things and have a setback that can delay your return to normal or hinder your quality of life. Be patient and compliant, and get better!!


Disclaimer: All content found on our website, including images, videos, infographics, and text were created solely for informational purposes. Our reviewed content should never be used for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of any medical conditions. Content shared on our websites is not meant to be used as a substitute for advice from a certified medical professional. Reliance on the information provided on our website as a basis for patient treatment is solely at your own risk. We urge all our customers to always consult a physician or a certified medical professional before trying or using a new medical product.


HPFY Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary

Kevin Cleary has been a Health Products For You contributor for many years and has a degree in marketing. His health and wellness journey has a very personal meaning and has guided him in his content writing for HPFY.

In 2006, ...

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