Recovery Time and Complications After Barbie Butt Surgery

Feb 18, 2023 11:35 pm

Hi. I am considering having this surgery because of continuing ulcerative colitis in my rectum. I guess my question is for people that have had this surgery. My doctor is telling me I should be fully recovered in two months but I have heard some people took longer than two months. If you don't mind sharing your experiences, I would appreciate knowing if the two months is realistic and what, if any, complications may come from the surgery. Thank you.

Feb 18, 2023 11:42 pm

Fully, being the key word here, recovered in 2 months is highly unlikely.

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Feb 19, 2023 12:18 am

Hi there, I have a Barbie butt and agree with Alex about not being fully recovered in two months. Maybe your doctor is referring to you being able to return to your job or basic activities? You most likely will unless you have a physically challenging job. My butt was quite sore for five or six weeks, not cry-out-loud sore but sore enough where sitting straight down was challenging - I leaned on one cheek for a while. I asked for more Percocet for the pain while I healed but my surgeon refused. Luckily, shortly after my request, the pain subsided. I was very lucky with no complications. I was reversing a J-pouch and also had UC in my rectum along with pouchitis in the J-pouch itself. It was an absolute relief going back to my ostomy. No more pain. Good luck with your decision, you'll get more responses here.

Feb 19, 2023 2:58 am
Reply to eefyjig

Thank you for your response. Very helpful!

Feb 19, 2023 3:03 am

I had complications, so mine took much longer to heal.

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Feb 19, 2023 3:16 am

Thanks for asking this. I have the same question!

Feb 19, 2023 3:21 am

Like you, I was hesitant to have my rectum removed but I'm glad I did. I was getting discharge as well, and it was becoming extremely bothersome. The recovery time was difficult - it was close to 5 weeks before going back to work (desk job) for half-days. I spent a lot of time lying on the couch on my side. I used a foam doughnut when I wanted to sit up for eating. Eventually I could sit for longer periods and often sat on one cheek at a time. Having the surgery was worth it for me, and I do wish I'd had it sooner. Luckily, I didn't have any complications and, also luckily, my surgeon was quick to see me on the one occasion I thought something was going wrong (I'd seen a large amount of fluid a day or two post-op, but it was just drainage from the surgery).

I think the recovery time will depend on your current condition and your level of commitment to working through the discomfort. It will get better in time.

Good luck to you

Feb 19, 2023 5:57 am

I had to go camping with my nine-year-old son exactly one month after my complete ileostomy and buttectomy. It was awkward, and I took a couple of pain pills, but honestly, after dealing with horrible Crohn's for so many years, this pain was quite bearable. Good luck. From my experience, your doctor is correct. Jeanne

Feb 19, 2023 8:46 am

The responses so far are good, but they only address the physical recovery process.  You will have a mental recovery period as well.  It will likely depend upon your present psychological state.  You will be living in a totally different reality, and how you react to it will guide your progress in accepting your new, very different physical being.  People have appeared on this site just following their surgery and exhibited vastly different reactions to their stomas, from disgusted to realistic acceptance.  Many surgeons have no clue about what their patients subsequently have to go through.  A good ostomy nurse will help, but ultimately it will depend on how well you're able to wrap your head around your new plumbing.

Bob 48
Feb 19, 2023 9:18 am

I had the surgery in September and still sitting slowly on toilet one butt cheek and then slowly roll into normal sitting position, trying to stretch the skin more, it's gotten a lot better though. Sitting on everything else is good and has been for a while.

Feb 19, 2023 12:48 pm
Reply to Bob 48

What are you doing sitting on a toilet after having your butthole sewn up?

You pee standing up, right? I have not sat on a toilet since 2016 with my ostomy.

Please explain what you are doing?

Feb 19, 2023 1:31 pm
Reply to AlexT

Thanks, Alex

Feb 19, 2023 3:39 pm

As doctors always tell me, usually after surgery when I've had complications, 'there are never any guarantees with surgery'.

The long-term benefits from having surgery for your health far outweigh all the 'what ifs'... if you don't have it done, you could end up having it done as emergency surgery when you're feeling really ill, making the recovery time longer and with a higher risk of complications.

I was quite lucky, didn't have any complications, and was back at work around 5 weeks after surgery. Yes, I was still uncomfortable at that time, but not in screaming out loud pain. There's always risks with any surgery; one of them with rectum and anus removal is you could be impotent for a short time or longer.

Feb 20, 2023 12:33 am
Reply to Ben38

Thank you to all of you that took time to share your experiences with the surgery. This helps me to plan the timing of the surgery.

Bob 48
Feb 20, 2023 4:02 am
Reply to warrior

Sometimes I empty my pouch by sitting on the toilet, no I don't have to but being watery high output it's easier for me that way. Even when I layer toilet paper in the toilet to avoid splashing, it still spatters everywhere and in some places I don't want to kneel in. I also still have some lower back pain because of a fistula that connected to vertebrae in the lower back, causing a nasty bone infection and nerve damage, so even bending over or squatting over the toilet sucks some days. I have an 18-inch or so scar from sternum to pelvic bone from the first j-pouch surgery like many other people on here, I'm sure, and it was important to try to stand up as straight as possible after that surgery to stretch the skin so I wouldn't be slouching forever, so if I can safely stretch the skin down below, I will to feel as close to normal as I can in that area. Not a big mystery.

Feb 20, 2023 8:29 pm

If you are otherwise in good condition, you can expect to resume most activities much sooner than 2 months. For me, it was more like 2-3 weeks, including driving. The mental part is a challenge, but over time you definitely adjust. One common theme across the threads in a site like this is that "issues" are almost always expressed by newbies, and us long-timers for the most part have adjusted extremely well. By 2 months or much sooner, you will have figured out your routine and should be leading a pretty normal life.

In terms of being "fully recovered," it is likely that you will have to deal with the final healing of the anal wound for quite some time. The reason for that is new skin needs to fill in for the anal wound. Your basic incision is slicing of skin somewhere on your stomach which is either stitched or stapled back together very tightly. That type of wound heals very quickly because the edges "approximate" into each other. The anal wound has something cut out, so new skin needs to fill in. This is granulation tissue ( Unfortunately, the environment in your intergluteal cleft (your butt crack) is not great for that healing. Warmth, sweating, rubbing together, sitting all conspire to continually re-injure this newly formed and tender skin. It won't take too long for it to be mostly OK and tolerable, but fully recovered could well be many, many months. The one thing that really worked for me (recommended by my surgeon) was to pack it very tightly with gauze. This reduces the moisture and keeps the skin from rubbing together and re-injuring. If it is still bleeding, you might need to change it during the day. As it heals, you can change it less often. A dab of Aquafor might also help. Of course, you should get your final advice from your own medical professionals.

Feb 21, 2023 1:03 am

Two months??? I don't think so!

I had a proctocolectomy three years ago, following an ileostomy that was performed 6 months prior, the reason being colorectal cancer. I was forced to wait for longer than recommended by my surgeon for the proctocolectomy because of my insurance, and my cancer was spreading while my paperwork sat for months on somebody's desk waiting for approval. My surgeon was very upset about this and informed me that the surgery was only barely still doable, once it finally was approved by my insurance.

I won't lie; the second surgery, for me anyway, was brutal. Very invasive, even though it was performed with "robots." I was in significant pain for the first three months. During that time my new Barbie Butt-crack got infected and required a 2-week course of antibiotics. I was able to resume my normal activity level at 5-6 months. I didn't feel anywhere even close to "normal" for about 1 year. For the swelling to go away completely, it took about 2 years. Emotionally, I was in a bad way for roughly 1 1/2 years over this. I must add that having an unsupportive and unfaithful spouse during that time did not help matters one bit! (He is gone, now, by the way, and I'm much happier)

I notice that your surgery, should you elect to do so, would be performed for a different reason than mine was, which might make a difference, but I don't know 'cause I'm not a doctor anyway. Best of luck to you!

Feb 21, 2023 1:48 am

I recommend:

A waffle seat air cushion (cover with disposable underpad, aka chux)

Disposable underpads

Hemorrhoid ice packs

Seat cushion ice pack

Go commando (no underwear/pants) as much as possible

Request wound care nurse home visit to check your wound 2x a week

Good luck

Feb 21, 2023 1:52 am
Reply to Misspearl

I like that "go commando" part.

Feb 21, 2023 3:35 am

Perhaps it has something to do with having all the surgery at one time versus two surgeries, but I had a total proctocolectomy with permanent end ileostomy on November 10, 2015, and I was driving in 3 weeks and out having dinner for my oldest daughter's 40th birthday one month after surgery. I used a waffle cushion that I got from EHOB (recommended by my surgeon and WOC nurse) and got a portable sitz bath that I used daily. I never had what I would call excruciating pain at all from the "buttectomy" part of the surgery, just mainly abdominal pain. I was told not to use a donut cushion, but of course, go with what your surgeon recommends.

Good luck with the surgery, I hope your recuperation is much in line with mine and you have no major issues!


Feb 21, 2023 1:17 pm

Mate, if it is 2 months or 3 months that's still better than a lifetime of Ulcerative Colitis. I went through it all and I am now free of the UC and life is good.

Feb 21, 2023 2:22 pm

Hi. I had mine done in conjunction with removing my total large colon due to Crohn's almost 50 years ago. For a couple of years after, I had fistulas in that area that needed to be scraped. I eventually stopped this according to my surgeon and took his advice and did sitz baths 3 times per day or at least twice per day. This helped to relieve the pain and eventually they went away. Now, if I lift anything heavy, it seems that I feel I am straining in that area.

I have heard that others have phantom pain. I have not.

Make sure you have a really good surgeon.

Best of luck to you.

Feb 21, 2023 6:21 pm
Reply to Bob 48

Right before you empty your bag, flush the toilet. As the toilet water is going down, empty your bag. I haven't put toilet paper in the bowl since I started doing the flush thing.

Feb 22, 2023 1:08 am

Well, I can personally say, it took me almost 4 months before I could sit up without sitting on my donut, and I was still uncomfortable. But I do believe your body plays a part in how you heal.

Make sure you can create a very comfortable space to rest.

Feb 22, 2023 10:50 am

I had an ELAPE - which is an extra levator abdominal perineal excision which is like an APR with extra bits as you need plastic surgery to replace your levator muscles and lose your coccyx as well as all the rest. I was out and about in 2 months and able to walk around without any issue and using a cushion when sitting down. I started exercising properly around 6 months after the op and then built it up from there. Can honestly say I have had no issues with my barbie butt - it's been great.

Feb 22, 2023 1:35 pm
Reply to jeanneskindle

Wow, you really stepped up to the plate, Jeanne!

Feb 22, 2023 11:16 pm

I'm one year out from my surgery and it took me three months to walk around, four months to sit up in a donut for short periods of time, five months to sit without a donut for short periods of time (in a padded chair) and six to eight months to sit in a regular chair (a little discomfort but manageable) and a year to completely heal and go back to our new normalcy.

Feb 25, 2023 12:11 am
Reply to Bob 48

Hey Bob...

Thanks for that explanation. I appreciate that...

I couldn't quite figure out why anybody really uses a toilet anymore for emptying the bag like you and most others do...

I haven't used that method you speak of since 2016, when I had my permanent ileostomy. And I got to tell you something, I found something a little bit better than what Alex recommended... Although that is a pretty good idea, I didn't think about that trying to flush as you empty your bag, but I think you might need a third hand someplace, you know what I mean? Because when that bag starts swinging... Forget about it...

So what I would like to recommend is a can, a coffee can, or what I do use is those little water containers that you get when you go to the hospital. They fill it with ice and they give you a cup... A pitcher... Little pitcher... Yeah, that's what I use...

I've been using that for quite a long time, and I got to tell you, whether it's a liquid output or a solid, it sure beats kneeling and bending over a toilet... That splash is gross!! It is so ridiculous!! It gets all over the place!! I guess you can call that "backsplash," right??

So I basically empty into this can or this container, and usually I fill it with just a little water prior to that... If it's really thick, I just add more water at the sink in the bathroom, and I got to tell you, this thing works for me, at least when I'm home... When I'm out, there's another story, but at least you should be comfortable at home, you know, like Cheech and Chong says: "I got to go to the can, man."

I think you'll find it very helpful.

Yes, it is an "ewww" moment and method, but you got more control of where the shit goes...

Also, while at the sink, whatever residue is left on bag end, you just use the faucet to wash it into the container. Wipe clean...

Anyone else try this? ...Warrior

Feb 25, 2023 12:19 am
Reply to jeanneskindle

Wow!! I think I'd be more concerned with leakage than the pain.. I mean your butthole is all sewn up, you're getting in and out of the car, you're bending or picking things up..

This is what my doctor is warning me about because I'm an auto mechanic and I'm constantly getting in and out of cars going under cars so my recovery time is going to be a lot longer but then again mind over matter right??

So good for you that you got out there and you use those pain pills but there's nothing more frightening than having a leak.. especially if you're camping and suppose I don't know maybe the stitches broke open what would you do in that situation??

You know you have to be so careful but then again you also have to apply yourself cuz your son needed you so I get that I understand that..

Did you buy lottery tickets by chance? Cause you got real lucky doing all that you did.



Feb 25, 2023 2:40 am
Reply to warrior

I get in/out of cars all the time, crawl up/down on trains, squat down between train cars to make air hoses, extend my body to tie the train brakes, etc. I do all that stuff a hundred times a night and no issues yet. These things are pretty durable, I've been impressed.