Successful Reversal: Embracing Life Without an Ostomy


Well, 4 months after the initial surgery I have been back for the reversal operation. And 2 weeks after the op, all is well. I'd have to say it is not a walk in the park, but worth the pain and discomfort in the end. At 44 years old, it wasn't really an option to keep the ostomy, even though I would have considered it had I been 20 years older. In truth, life with the bag became a lot more acceptable after a month or so than I ever thought could be possible at first. Should I ever have to go back (to life with the bag), I won't be too worried now I know what it all entails. I think the hardest bit was going to work with the bag, but you know what, all my workmates just accepted it and some never even knew it was there. The hardest bit was having a medical (I work offshore and have to fly in helicopters, etc.) and showing the bag off to the doctor, but he'd seen it all before, not a problem. All in all, life was fairly normal other than I never went swimming (favorite sport) during the bag days. So apart from a rather large scar (or 2), I'm back to status quo and looking forward to getting training again. To anyone who is about to undergo the initial Op to have an Ostomy, DON'T WORRY, it will give you a new lease of life, you will feel better, and you will come to accept your new bottom, as will others around you. As for the reversal, I think this is a personal and individual decision, I'm glad I've done it and happy the operation has been a success, but I would seriously have considered NOT reversing had I been at an elder age. Now .... where's my trunks and goggles :)

Take care everyone and enjoy every day ...


Great advice, Jason. All the best to you. PB

Hello Jason. Thanks for posting these comments. It is so important for people to realise that having an ostomy does not necessarily mean normal life is finished. It is also refreshing to hear from people who have had reversals and are happy with the results. May your life go 'swimmingly' from here on in. Best wishes Bill
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How wonderful for you, Jase. Hope you don't become a stranger. Your experiences can help many here, but do get out and pick up where you left off...and have a great swim~

Hello Jason, I had a reversal 7 months ago and still having some complications with it. I told my doctor I wish I hadn't had it, but it's been 3 years with the bag and the doctor decided to reverse it. I really got used to the bag and plus I kept my weight down. Now I have gained 15 lbs. The most important thing is this summer I can go swimming again, it's been a long time... Best wishes!! Cheryle

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How wonderful that you let us know how you're doing. I think a lot of people hesitate to even consider a reversal because the success stories seem far fewer than the not so successful stories. To be feeling good enough to go swimming after two weeks is amazing! And like you said on your bio, you have two good reasons to be happy no matter what. I'm sure those little ones will love being in the water with Dad when they are older and you will have no fear of holding one in each arm and not having to keep an arm free to slap over the bag if that dreadful slipping away feeling starts. Stay well and thanks again for writing such a nice post for those considering reversal and those who have accepted reversal as a non-option. Loretta

I am seeing a physician in Chicago on March 24th [Colo-rectal surgeon] to talk about reversal. I got a sigmoid ostomy in October 2010 due to diverticulitis. I too, for the most part, I have been able to manage it much better than ever anticipated!! Many people who don't know that I play sports with would be shocked that I have a bag, given the still negative view of many on this subject. I play tennis as well or better than in my 40s, work out more at the gym, and actually even at my age have seen muscle increase. Never would have thought that in October 2010 when I almost died. But I think when you have a challenge, some people actually respond by greater effort than others might if they are healthy and may take their health for granted. Since I am doing reasonably OK with it, I am wondering whether others would consider not doing a reversal if they had the option, if they were near my age. I know there is always more risk of surgery the older we are, unless you have a serious underlying problem at a younger age. However, being in good shape, I am toying with the idea of a reversal. Obviously, major surgery, anesthesia, etc. is a consideration for anyone over 60, particularly when it is essentially elective surgery. Jason, you said you might not have gone for it if you were 20 years later. Why do you say that? view? Thanks

Hi SF, thanks for asking ... oh, it's a very individual and personal decision as I said, my answer may, I'm sure, not be to everyone's agreement. I think you've very much answered a main part of the question already, the bag doesn't restrict you in 99% of life's activities, in fact, it becomes a very simple process to live with. So what's the 1% (metaphorically speaking of course)? Well, as I said, I'm 44. I also have twin baby girls who are just 1 year old, so as you can imagine, my life is relatively active and will continue to be for many years to come. I am a manager at my work and sit in many meetings/conferences. As you can imagine, there are quiet moments and my stoma could occasionally catch me out. Also, to be brutally honest, the bedroom (and activities within) are still a part of my life ... I found the bag a little off-putting in this area, but not completely restrictive. Would I be as bothered at 64? Probably a great deal less, I presume. In fact, there are positives: no smelly pumps, no aches or pains, no rushing to the toilet, convenience of changing/emptying your bag when suits you. So to try and answer your question, the lifestyle of a working 44-year-old with babies suits life without the bag (in my opinion). If I were 64, with grown-up kids retired, I would have (if I ever have to return) no issues at all living with the bag.

Thanks Jason... appreciate your viewpoint. This is exactly what my wife and I have discussed with respect to activities, lifestyle, and the like. Is it worth risking such a surgery? Is that more risky than living with it until death do us part?! May I ask, have you had any complications since the reversal? Some on this site have experienced them. Also, do they do a skin graft on the stoma site? All the best...

Thank you, Jason. My surgeon told me he thinks we can do this via laparoscope.

Hi Jason, I too work offshore on a contractor basis. I would like to pick your brains about your experience if possible.

Cheers - Kendo

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