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Chapter 19: Temporary Colostomy Reversal

With the increase we are seeing in the key-hole surgery procedure to form Colostomy stomas we are seeing more and more temporary Colostomies being made. Likewise if you have a bowel cancer operation you could end up with a temporary colostomy instead of a permanent one thanks to the advances made in cancer treatment and surgical procedures.

So, you've had a temporary colostomy for a while and it's due to be reversed next week… what can you expect?

The main "problem" with a reversal is a possible lack of bowel control for the first few days after the reversal. I say "problem" in inverted comma's because really it is only a slight inconvenience. The main point is that the longer the rectum is disconnected and unused the harder it is for the rectum to get back into some semblance of control and rhythm.

In a way, when the bowel is disconnected from the rectum, the rectum effectively goes on strike - has a holiday - goes into retirement… whatever you'd like to call it. And the longer it is left in this condition the longer it takes for the rectum to get back to its old habits. This sounds bad but we are talking a matter of a maybe one day incontinence and a couple weeks until you get back into your regular motions - but at least you do have the control over it to prevent accidents.

Surgically speaking a lot of reversals these days are performed via full open surgery, whether you had it formed via keyhole or not. However it is not always impossible for a reversal to be performed via keyhole and so it is always worth asking the surgeon if a keyhole reversal is possible for you. Only your surgeon can tell you for certain which reversal surgery is best for you, and it is best to ask him so you know what to expect during your stay in hospital.

Keyhole reversal is practically the surgical equivalent of an appendectomy. You will most likely be in hospital for two or three nights depending on your Surgeons action-plans for such operations.

If the reversal is performed via open surgery then you'll have a rough idea what to expect if the stoma was formed that way, however reversals are far easier on the body than the colostomy creation operation, so hopefully even if you've had it formed via open surgery, and you have to have it reversed that way too, things will not be anywhere near as bad as they were during the original op's recovery period. Your stay in hospital is anywhere from 6 to 12 days, where as the original creation operation can be 10 - 14 days.

The key-hole operation will leave you with maybe two very small scars. The location of these scars depend on your Surgeon but one under the belly button and one somewhere else on your belly near the stoma area. This is so they can insert their implements and air-hose in to the body. (The air hose inflates the abdomen area and lights it so the Surgeon then has some room to manoeuvre whilst operating.)

Because the wounds are so small the operation not too invasive you will not feel too sore afterwards. I say "too" because in comparison it is a very small operation in comparison to your first one. However, the air that is inflated into you can make you feel very sore around the shoulders and that area until it has fully dispersed itself afterwards. In my experience of key-hole Surgery this has always been the most annoying part of the procedure because it just lingers and lingers and seems to take days to alleviate.

So, to wrap up; the reversal operation is not as bad for the majority of people in comparison to the earlier stoma-formation procedure, regardless of it it is performed via keyhole or open surgery. And, once you get home, you truly are on the road to recovery and you have thoroughly earned it - so take it easy, and enjoy it. :o)

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