Complications of Ostomy Reversal: Leaks and Success Rates?


I had my operation just before Christmas 2011, and I will be talking to my surgeon in a few days about the possibility of a reversal. Are there any complications getting things to work again? What about leaks?
I have heard that reversal surgery is quite common... That makes me wonder why they don't do it that way to start with?

Past Member
Some reversals work and some don't. From my experience, it was a very long operation and looking back, I wish I had not done it.

For me, if you are talking about having a J Pouch??? It was worse than having ulcerative colitis. Constantly going to the toilet, but it was like acid. I developed a fistula around my rectum. I went back to a loop ileostomy as I had wasted away to virtually nothing. I have never looked back!!! However, if I had known what was involved and not just being told "Didn't I want to be normal again?" I would have just stayed with an ileostomy to begin with. Now I have to have vitb12 monthly as I have now lost part of my small bowel and food passes through a lot faster. Tiredness, etc., is also an issue. So before you jump into it, I would recommend you get as much information as you can.

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Just had my reversal 3 weeks 2 days ago. Talk to surgeons (colorectal preferable) until you find one that you can ask all of your questions to who is not put off or offended in any way.

Yes. Leaks can occur. Disfiguring scars - probably gonna have a few of those too.

If you are a candidate, I wish you all the best and a speedy recovery!!!!


Thank you sooooo very much!
Just 3 weeks! since the operation.
Please keep me informed of your progress, that information will be so vital to me!
I wish you all the very best and a comfortable recovery, you will be in my thoughts.
All information that you feel like sharing will be of the greatest importance to me, and to all the readers of this.

Thanks again!


Yes, it has only been three weeks!!! The pain for the first two weeks was pretty severe, but mine was open. I was cut from just under my breasts to about 2" above my pubic hairline. It was my sixth abdominal surgery, there was a lot of scar tissue (adhesions) to deal with. Hopefully yours won't be as complicated.

In spite of the pain, I would NEVER tell anyone to NOT do it. All I thought about from the first day I woke up off life support, realized I had an ileostomy was, "WILL I be able to have this reversed, WHEN!!!!"

Some people are lucky that the bags help them from the debilitating pain, sickness of Crohn's, and other malicious disease processes. I can see how the ileo or colo would be a welcome relief for them!!!

Mine was caused by a surgeon who I trusted, not doing what I trusted him to do!!! I wanted to be me again!!!!

DO IT!!!!! DO IT!!!!! DO IT!!!!! Find a doctor who is humble, will answer ALL of your questions, and hopefully one that your gut will tell ya -"yep...he's the one!" GO FOR IT!!!!!

Staying Hydrated with an Ostomy with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister

One more thing - for about the first two weeks, it will feel like you are pooping lava while your bottom gets used to being used again. It hurts like you wouldn't believe. I used diaper wipes and diaper rash ointment for two and a half weeks till it eased up a little. SHEW! Thank GOD that is getting better!!!

Dave_Canada has a blog here about his recovery that you would certainly find useful.

Bag_n_Drag also has had a reversal if you wish to look her up!

Primeboy - all of us love him too!

Check them out!!!



You can add me to the list of successful reversals as well. It was the usual story. I had to wait for one year. I did, and then my surgeon refused to do the procedure even though the ostomy was the result of trauma and not disease. So I found another surgeon, and he said there was no reason not to have it done. Of course, he checked all my records.

I am totally satisfied with the results. I, at the time, did not know that there was the possibility of complications. I guess I was lucky!


Reversal has been done, two weeks ago, plumbing seems to function up to code so far. Did someone say "pooping lava"? Oh yes! That is exactly right. Will the burning ever go away???
Thanks to everyone for the input, I would never have had the reversal if it wasn't for all the positive input!
Love you all! Hope to meet with some of you sometime!


The burning will stop!!!! I promise!!!!

Way to go!!!

Out of curiosity......was your reversal open or laparoscopic????

Past Member
Hello everyone, I'm new at this. I had my surgery in October 2008. I had a heart attack and was placed on Plavix. Exactly two weeks to the day, I started bleeding from my rectum. In a rush to the hospital, I passed out. When I came to, I found out that my surgeon performed an end Sigmoid with Harttmans pouch. He advised me that it was only temporary. A month later, my insurance dropped me. I have been so depressed and now fast forward to 2013. I'm scheduled to have a reversal. Thank God.

My question is this:
I'm overweight and scared to death. I was in the hospital the first time for a month with 3 weeks in the ICU. Is there a special diet or exercise that would give me the best possible chance to come out of this alive? I just got married 5 months ago and I don't know if I should leave well enough alone. But the adjustment to the bags has caused me so much heartache and pain. But I'm ALIVE.

Can anyone help?

None of us can decide for you if you should reverse or not reverse!!!!

This is one of the hardest decisions you will ever make. I too did my stint on life support to this day have nightmares of the things I hallucinated while in septic shock so I feel the angst ripping at your mind to leave well enough alone or bite the bullet!!!!! There was nothing left of me but a heart and a brain when I had my heart attack on life support. SO I KNOW YOUR FEAR!

That new wife of yours loves you so I am sure that she will stand by you no matter what your decision. I too was a little overweight when I was reversed but my surgeon did not see a problem and did not have me on any special diet or anything like that.

If you want to dump some weight before make sure you don't do it in a manner which will leave you unhealthy or feeling less than energetic because you will require all of the energy you can muster for the reversal!!!! Please consider that your body has been through hell which already leaves you less than energetic if for no other reason than the depression a lot of us fight daily in our minds. A reversal may change that for you!

My choice was to go for it - I couldn't stand being a shadow of the woman I was any longer!!!!!! I have no regrets. I am thankful to so many on this site for their love and encouragement throughout my journey. We will love you regardless of your choice!!!!

Get yourself some Depends. Believe me. I live alone and hate changing the bedsheets all the time.


If you are "pooping lava," drink a glass of Metamucil 3 times a day. No more lava poops.


My surgeon recommended loperamide (Imodium) to help with the lava poops. I started with one pill at every meal and slowly increased as needed. Be careful not to go overboard and get constipated, because that's even less fun. If you live in the US, it's far cheaper than here in Canada. I get mine in the U.S. when I can. It's about 1/10 of the price. I have a prescription for it, but my insurance won't cover it since it's available over the counter.
Regardless, it helped me and it did get better.
I share the views expressed by notexpectingthis.
I too was on life support, in a coma for over a week, and hallucinated badly for weeks. I spent nearly 60 days hospitalized, the first month of that in a critical care bed. Lights on 24/7, no call bell, and unable to walk.
Now, in my case, the original surgery was not due to disease, so I guess that factored into my decision to have it done. The small notion that it wouldn't (knock on wood) happen again.
I also agree with the comments about losing the extra pounds. Not only can your blood sugars rise after surgery, it also puts a strain on your body and incision sites.
Yes, leaks are possible. That directly factored into my surgeon's decision not to put mesh in me the first time. If I did develop a leak, he didn't want the added mess of going through mesh to fix it.
Unfortunately, I herniated some months later, but I take the blame for that.
Talk to your doctors. Educate yourself to your own risks and benefits.
My reversal took about 6 hours, I was in the hospital for 9 days, had home care for weeks to change dressings (the leave the stoma site open) and back at work in about 8 weeks.
I consider mine a reversal success story. Yes, I still have trouble walking due to other complications from the emergency surgery, but I am alive, back at work, and no longer under a surgeon's care.
Your mileage may vary.

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