Ileostomy reversal can be an exciting time for anyone who has a stoma after bowel surgery. The inconvenience and embarrassment of changing ileostomy bags and leakage makes life miserable for people already suffering from bowel cancer or serious another intestinal problem. Most patients with an ileostomy would leap at the chance to reverse the procedure and experience a normal bowel pattern again.
In cases of intestinal disease, a surgeon creates a stoma by bringing the end of the small intestine to the outside of the body where it can move waste out of the colon and into a bag. Depending on the reason for the stoma, surgeons can sometimes reverse an ileostomy to restore the normal flow of waste through the patient’s anus.
While reversal is not always possible, many surgeons create stomas in hopes of performing an ileostomy reversal after curing the patient of his intestinal disease. Your surgeon will weigh several factors when determining if ileostomy reversal is right for you, including the location of your cancer or other disease, whether you experienced complications, if you had chemotherapy or radiation, and your overall health since the initial surgery.
Ileostomy reversal is a straightforward procedure – your surgeon will reconnect the two ends of your ileostomy then put your bowel back inside your body. The surgeon may make a new incision directly on top of the old one, or perform laparoscopic ileostomy reversal using small tools through tiny incisions in the skin. The procedure will last 30 to 60 minutes, on average. You should expect to stay in the hospital for several days to recover.
The ileostomy reversal procedure allows your intestines to function normally, although there will still be a piece of your bowel missing, which does affect how well your digestive tract works. Immediately after surgery, many people experience constipation or diarrhea. Most have to re-introduce food back into their diet gradually over time to avoid these problems.
Success of your ileostomy reversal depends on several factors, including how well you healed from the initial surgery to create the ileostomy and how well you tolerated other treatments for your original medical condition. Another important factor is the location of your ileostomy in proximity to your anus – the shorter the remaining rectum, the more difficult it is for a surgeon to reconnect the bowel without affecting how the sphincter muscles of the anus work. This could cause complications, such as incontinence, which is leakage from your bowels.
Most people have a positive experience with ileostomy reversal and are glad they pursued this course of treatment. Make an appointment today with Dr. Don Schiller, the ileostomy specialist at The Center for Ileostomy Surgery at Olympia Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, to learn if ileostomy reversal is right for you.