Considering a Colostomy Reversal at 75: Seeking Advice and Experiences

Oct 15, 2023 9:44 am

I had a colostomy operation last December following a ruptured diverticula and would welcome any advice or experiences people of my age have faced with a reversal operation, which is something I am now having to consider. I am 75 years young.

Oct 15, 2023 11:40 am

Hi Carly, would I please be able to talk to you in private about this? I was in the same boat as you and close to the same age. Regards, IGGIE

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Oct 15, 2023 12:52 pm

Hello - I am an 80-year-old with an ileostomy (not an ostomy). I had my surgery in 2020 to remove a non-malignant cyst (including my right ovary and appendix) which were "ravaged" (surgeon's word) by this cyst.

Following my surgery, I was told a reversal was in my immediate future - about 6 weeks. Long story short (I have written much about this) - it never happened. After desperately wanting to return to a "normal poop life," it was not in the cards for me. Along with my age and the fact I am currently pain-free, the decision to not proceed with a reversal was my decision alone.

Who would think, having been so absolutely set on reversal surgery, I would even consider changing my mind?

There were many indicators (I like to call them "signs") as to why this decision was made. This website was the number one reason in terms of information gathering as opposed to surgeons, doctors, and pharmaceutical commercialization and their not so grand design in bringing their drugs to market.

After all, the folks that contribute posts here on their real-life experiences is ultimately the perfect library for a plethora of a "normal poop life" once lived and lost.

That being said, we are all different and your own experiences, research, and good judgment, in time, should help you with the right decision for you. "In time" is key - it took me a little over a year to feel well again and return to normal health.

Best wishes for making the right decision for you.


Mysterious Mose
Oct 15, 2023 4:57 pm

Like JB, I also have an ileostomy. So, my situation is quite different from yours, depending on how much colon you have left. That is most important in what the result may be like. I have no colon at all, but do have a complete rectum. However, with an ileostomy, I am emptying my bag 6-8 times a day. If push comes to shove, I don't need a bathroom. Just something to empty it into and somewhere to dispose of the output. That would not be the case after reversal. I would have always had to know where a bathroom was located. And then there are all the other unknowns. This, and the fact I am also 75 years old, caused me to finally decide against a reversal.

But as I said, I have an ileostomy and no colon. If you have colon left, your experience could be much different. The more colon you have, the better. Do you have a complete rectum? What you have left will dictate your experience.

And welcome to the site. I would recommend that you flesh out your bio with just what type of surgery you had and what parts you have left. That will help minimize the number of questions you will get regarding such. :-)


Oct 16, 2023 10:25 pm

Closure of your ostomy is a decision between you and your surgeon, considering your general physical condition. Closure is not a necessity, and there are some advantages to ostomies. If I were relatively healthy, I would probably have it reversed, assuming I have never had control of my bowels before the stoma surgery.

Words of Encouragement from Ostomy Advocates I Hollister
Nov 04, 2023 5:56 pm

In October 2023, my husband was diagnosed with early-onset mild Alzheimer's and dementia. He turned in his driving license voluntarily, and we had our family support all around. We can handle this. However, having had severe back problems for close to 4 months, a trip to the ER in January with my husband and oldest daughter helping me walk actually ended with a trip back to a different ER with even more excruciating pain. Less than 2 hours later, I found myself surrounded by blue scrubs, doctors, nurses, machines, and so on. I have no idea to this day how long I was in surgery, but I do remember seeing my younger daughter leaning over my bed with her big beautiful brown eyes saying, "Mom, you have an ostomy." Needless to say, I asked why they went through my gut to get to my back. Apparently, my back pain was masking the fact that I had an ischemic blockage and lost three-quarters of my colon. The back pain? Oh yes, two discs ruptured, and the pieces had entered my nerve canal. Now how do I walk to aid in postoperative recovery? My surgeon was amazing, and we know he saved my life since I was told had I waited until the morning, I would not have been alive to worry about it. I was in CCU for 9 days and step down for 4. PICC lines. Kidney issues. My body was shutting down. It was not a pretty picture. The orthopedic surgeon and colorectal surgeon collaborated and decided I would need to wait 6 weeks at the very least to get my back operated on so that I could begin exercises for postoperative ostomy AND back surgery. Well, here it is 10 months later, and my back has done quite well. I can walk and do my own housework and drive, and were it not for the ostomy, I would be ME again. I am 78 and was extremely active with my husband and our grandchildren. I started out with an amazing ostomy nurse, and here may I interject that the medical field is in huge need of qualified, caring nurses, and especially specialized nursing like anesthetists, colostomy, wound care, and cancer units. I began with a 2-piece appliance and home care that helped me in no time to learn how to change and empty the bag. (I am a 5-day change out) During the process of healing and exercises for my legs and ostomy, and then postoperative for my back, I developed a prolapsed stoma. That means the part that is on the outside of the body is no longer a "button" looking opening, but now is about 2.3 inches out and hangs down into the bag. I have become pretty much a hermit as I cannot stand to see this protrusion under my clothes. I was hoping for reversal and just learned last week, that I may still have partial blockage and have an appointment to see a colorectal vascular surgeon in a tertiary facility to monitor that for the rest of my life and "maybe" fix the prolapse. Lots and lots of decisions for me to make and would like to hear from anyone who could help me get past this idea that people will stare at the "belly bulge" when I am out. My exit wound is just at the waist, and I cannot put clothes over the stoma as it causes pancaking of the stool, and I am not a fan of "fiddling" with stuff to get it back into the bag. Since I have been changed to a one-piece, it's not like I can just pop off the bag and snap on another. Guess I'm just looking for someone besides my family of nurse daughters, granddaughters, and my loving husband to say it's okay. Not looking for pity, just a firm "deal with it and do the best you can, we've been there, done that" reply. Any tips on colostomy care would also be helpful. Oh, and new colostomy nurse, Alyssa, is just amazing. How blessed I am to have all this talent so close to my area.

Mysterious Mose
Nov 04, 2023 9:26 pm
Reply to grandee

Let me be the first to say that it's okay. We all deal with issues around our stomas. Have you tried high-waist pants with an elastic band? As long as the elastic is not too tight, it should not block your stoma. I wear such pants all the time with no real issues. You just don't want to cut off the flow below the stoma. I have an ileostomy and, therefore, my stoma protrudes, much as yours does. And having an ileostomy, I can relate to your issues about bag protrusion. I often find myself emptying my bag more often than I really need to. But, there are times when I am away from a bathroom that it gets pretty full of gas. I usually try to find an alone place where I can burp my bag. It's something you learn to deal with. Whenever I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, I remind myself of the alternative. I am alive and still here for my family and friends, all of whom have been incredibly supportive.


Dec 06, 2023 11:47 pm
Reply to IGGIE

Hi Iggie, I am also a senior considering a colonoscopy reversal. Would like your input. Thank you.

Dec 08, 2023 3:57 am
Reply to lyndaj

I have sent you a private message. Regards, IGGIE

Dec 11, 2023 2:33 am
Reply to grandee

I feel much the same as you regarding a protruding stomach bulge. Fortunately, the style of clothing in the last few years has helped immensely for me to hide my belly bulge. I wear longer tops and snug pants. I love the support of tight pants as the hernia belt is uncomfortable for me. I have an ileostomy and a peristomal hernia. I have a one-piece bag and my stoma is just beneath my waistline. I make sure there is a small amount of air in the bag and use a dash of baby oil inside the bag… this eliminates pancaking and allows an easy outflow of waste. I have many different style tops and pants and love skinny jeans also. Here's an example. jb

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Dec 16, 2023 11:58 pm

Thank you all for your input. I am of a mind not to have the reversal surgery.

Dec 17, 2023 12:47 pm
Reply to lyndaj

I think you have made a good choice. Good luck and keep us up to date. Regards, IGGIE