Seeking advice on colostomy reversal after rectal cancer treatment


Hi all! I have had a colostomy for nearly 5 years due to complications from rectal cancer treatment. I have been doing irrigation almost exclusively since then. Recently a couple of my doctors have asked me about trying to reconnect my bowel again. Most of my rectum was removed in the initial surgery. Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated. Thank you, Clint


I have no real answer for you since I had all of my rectal stuff removed. But I'd be asking lots and lots of questions and asking about real success having it reversed. IMO, I'd have to hear 95% or better success rates to go through it after 5 years of adjusting to the ostomy life you're used to now. I'd also look into insurance covering it and also the possibility of insurance not covering things (ostomy-wise) if you don't have the surgery and decide to keep your ostomy. Good luck, it'd be a tough decision to go back to wiping my butt for me, given a choice.

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You could also do a search in the forum 'Colostomy Reversal'. Good luck.

Reply to AlexT

Thanks for the reply. That's the main issue, none of my doctors seem to have very good answers. It's highly unlikely that I would consider it. I thought I would throw it out there anyway to see if anything interesting came up. I don't think the odds are in my favor. Living in the Philippines makes the decision even easier. Not to knock the medical care, I am extremely satisfied with the way my cancer treatment went. It's just that they aren't that familiar with some things. I had to teach myself stoma irrigation because none of the doctors here were familiar. Thanks again for your help!


Hello Clint.
Thank you for your post.
I was in a similar position a few years ago, when a couple of my own doctors were suggesting to me that I should have a reversal. I too had been irrigating from the earliest opportunity and have had few problems with my ‘new-life’ over the years.
My first and only response to the doctors was a resounding: “Thank you for asking, but NO THANKS!”
The question made me wonder if the doctors were fully conversant with my previous condition where I had an anal prolapse, and all sorts of other complications. It was obvious to me that these conditions were most unlikely to be absent if I was reconnected. However, it did start me wondering as to why they could not perceive that to be the case.
Could it be that they were focussed on their own needs to ‘practice’ reconnections?
Could it be that they were trying to save NHS money in the longer-term by not having to supply stoma stuff?
Could it be that they were not competent enough to realise the implications of what they were suggesting?
I do not know the answers to these questions, but they do raise some serious doubts about the motivation behind the doctor’s suggestion.
These sorts of decisions are obviously dependent upon one’s own personal circumstances. However, when I was enquiring about a ‘barbi- bum’, I was advised in no uncertain terms, that it was a ‘major surgery’, that was ill-advised unless absolutely necessary.
Personally, I feel more confident with doctors who know when they should not perform surgery, than I do with those who appear to be touting for business.
I hope this helps.
Best wishes

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Hi Bill.

Thank you for the reply, sorry for the delay getting back to you.

It's highly unlikely that I would consider this option, I was curious about if anyone here has had a similar situation.

Recently I had to make a phone call to SS, amazingly the woman I ended up talking to had a reversal 20 plus years ago and still has continence issues! Sadly, she said that irrigation didn't work for her.

I had to look up the "Barbie bum" procedure, I guess that I have already had that done.

I really don't think that the doctors were financially motivated as much as lack of understanding of the irrigation method itself. I think they think that I would be happier trying to be more normal. The doctors here have basically no experience with stoma irrigation. I was pretty much on my own when I started. Thanks to a couple of YouTube videos and family from the States sending the necessary items, I am now a seasoned irrigator! Hehe. Also, my wife is against the reversal surgery as well. Too many chances for complications.

Thanks again for your advice and assistance!

I hope all continues to go well with you!


Old Bud

I have a similar situation except I have an ileostomy so don't irrigate. They said they removed 90 percent of my rectum (CC) but the surgeon is quite insistent that a reversal will be OK. I have really gotten used to Bruce. It was a challenge at first but now think that this is the way God should have made us. LOL. Love not having hemorrhoids and butt and abdominal pain. The rectum is for storage of stool and with 10% remaining not sure how that can work. I empty 10 times a day so not concerned with frequent bowel movements as long as I have some sort of control. Have horrible visions of incontinence. My stoma is prolapsing quite a bit and I have a growing hernia so I will need some type of surgery so I thought I would try the Reveal. I am 2 years with the bag.

Read up on the Braun Iry Pump. It's like irrigation but through your butt. If all else fails, my surgeon said these were successful in stopping accidents. Good luck. Let us know what you decide!


I don't know much about irrigating, but if I had to do it through my butt, I'd just keep things as is.

Reply to Bill

Hi Bill.

I read in one of your replies that you were having hernia issues. I was curious if you had had it repaired. I have a relatively small hernia around my belly button and a bulge at the stoma site. The doctors would like to repair the hernia and put mesh around the stoma as well. I read so many negative reviews about the mesh repairs but most seem to be several years old. I'm looking for more up-to-date info. I have met with 2 surgeons and their suggestions were almost verbatim.

Thank you, Clint

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