Colostomy Reversal: Weighing Pros and Cons - Seeking Advice

Feb 06, 2018 1:03 am

I'm just curious. Are there people like me that have the option to get a reversal from a colostomy but are just plain on the fence with pros, cons, ups and downs, and don't do anything? At the rate I'm going, I just wonder if it's all worth it. Wow, I'm 20 months in already. May I have your thoughts?

Also, what is the difference between a colostomy and an ileostomy?

Feb 06, 2018 6:40 am

Hello Newstom.

I came off that particular fence years ago and decided to stay with the colostomy. The medics were making false assumptions that would want a reversal. Whereas, having been incontinent for years prior, I was quite happy to be controlling my output from the front rather than the rear. In any case, I disagreed with their prognosis as I had a prolapsed anus prior, which, despite several ops, they could not fix. I could not see how this would be fixed by having a reversal and it felt as if I would be going back to where I was before. It was a 'no-brainer' for me to stay with the stoma. 

As for colostomy/ileostomy the former takes away less pipework so ends up in the area of the lower colon (lower left as the wearer sees it) and the latter takes away more pipework and ends up in the area of the ileum(upper right as the wearer sees it) It is probaby clearer to Google it for a look at a physiological chart to see exactly where these things are located.

The colostomy means that there is more pipework to do the digesting and therefore the output tends to be firmer than an ileostomy. 

Best wishes


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Feb 06, 2018 7:49 am

If you have had your sphincter removed, a reversal is impossible.

V. J.

Feb 07, 2018 6:34 am

Hello V.J.  Just to clarify things. My sphincter was not removed during the operations to fix the prolapse. They did procedures to lift the colon and pin it to the base of the spine so that it would not keep falling down. Like so many good ideas, it did not work! I figured that if I had a reversal. I would still be left with the same problem I had before.

Best wishes


Feb 07, 2018 7:59 am

I reckon you have made the right decision, Bill.

Like me, you irrigate, so life as an ostomate is much more bearable for us "evacuatees".

Worth repeating though, if you have had your sphincter removed (AP resection), as I have, a reversible operation is impossible.

There is nothing to join the colon to.


P.S. Currently 35 degrees Celsius in sunny Melbourne town, Australia

How to Manage Emotions with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Feb 07, 2018 4:24 pm

I still have the option to do a reversal from my ileostomy to a J-pouch. I have decided, unless something changes my mind in the next several months, not to do the reversal. I'm just wary of my body adjusting to it. My first full year with the bag has been pretty good. Personally, I don't see a J-pouch adding much to my quality of life even if it were to work flawlessly.

My surgeon has not rushed me about a decision, but says I need to make one at some point. Either get the reversal, or have the proctolectomy done. He tells me it's too much of a cancer risk to leave the bottom end of the plumbing in place and disconnected. I meet with him again this October, probably to schedule the proctolectomy.

That said, it comes down to a personal decision, whatever you think fits you and your lifestyle best.

Feb 09, 2018 6:50 am

Hello again everybody!  I have just blogged what I thought was my last poem in the series on stomas. However, in flicking through the book I noticed that there was just one more that had not had a chance of being suitably posted because the subject hadn't arisen as topical in a while. This post gives me the 'excuse' I need to blog my last poem in the series entitled 'Decisions on Reversal'.

Thank you Newstom for providing the cue to share.

I hope you like it!

Best wishes


Feb 13, 2018 4:17 pm

Hi, I had the option to reverse my colostomy, but decided not to bother. Various reasons really - the stoma has given me better bowel control than I had previously, and has been very well behaved, plus reversal has significant risks and doesn't always work, and the hospital where it would have been done had a barely average record for care and cleanliness. Thirteen years on, I have only occasionally regretted the decision.


Feb 13, 2018 7:36 pm

Hi Sasquatch!

I have had my ileostomy since 2012. I was also told that having my rectal stump removed at some point would be the thing to do "to avoid cancer" and to take out the last colitis. WELL. After doing a ton of research and reading and experimenting on myself, I no longer have UC in my rectal stump. In fact, I don't seem to have the inflammation anymore. So, there is no good reason to "have to" remove it. It is a very difficult surgery to heal from. I want to leave my options open. Medical science is always evolving. Don't let them tell you you have to remove it if it isn't a problem. I use mine as a barometer of my health. It would be like, "Let's remove your hands in case they get cancer"!!?? You have time to think and research. Do not feel pressured please.

Fraidy Cat
Feb 14, 2018 1:17 am

Hi Newstom,

I know exactly where you're coming from. I was there four years ago and struggled with whether or not to have my colostomy reversed. My colostomy surgery was an emergency due to a ruptured intestine from a diverticulitis attack.

I had pretty much decided to not have the reversal because the first surgery almost took me out and it was a long, slow recovery. Then I developed an incisional hernia from the colostomy surgery which became huge in a hurry, and the only way they would repair the hernia was to do a reversal also.

So I found the best surgeons I could and had the reversal and hernia repair. All went great and I am so glad.

Feb 14, 2018 10:00 am


I had the reversal done after ten months with a colonoscopy because my stoma was a problem from day one.

I had an inverted stoma that my surgeon tried to extend in the first ER when she created it. Then I went in for stoma repair after 4 months that didn't take. So after another 6 months of constant leaks and raw, weeping skin under the barrier, I 'had takedown surgery.

I can't say that I am real confident about it but I'm happy to not have the bag to contend with. I don't know if I will ever feel as if I'm healed. I've had one hernia operation and I'm pretty sure I have another. Besides that, I can't seem to regulate my bowels and my stomach always feels all mushy and makes all kinds of noises. I'm scared to death of having another bowel blockage.

Every time the surgeons go in there's more scar tissue and heavier bleeding. My stomach looks like a mass of train nb tracks. In spite of all that I can still say, "I'm happy be alive."

Good luck to you

Feb 16, 2018 8:33 pm

I also had emergency surgery because of diverticulitis. I was lucky to have very few problems with a one-piece pouch system. After 1 year, I had my reversal surgery and was in the hospital for 5 days. I came home with few problems, everything was going well, and then I developed a hernia which does not hurt but sticks out. I have the option of having it operated on but am scared to irritate the area. Hernias are not normally life-threatening and this, so far, would be for vanity. Does anyone have information to share? The hernia is quite large and protrudes.

Mar 04, 2018 2:49 am

I've had my ileostomy since 2015 due to Crohn's/Colitis. I'm a candidate for a reversal but I declined. After practically living in the bathroom over half my life, I decided to keep my ostomy. I can at least get out and not worry so much to find a public restroom.

Mar 06, 2018 4:24 am

There was some thought about rehooking me up as well until this latest revision. Turns out that the first emergency operation did not work very well and I got a stricture shortly after having the first ileostomy. So for 5 to 6 months, every time I ate something, no matter what, it caused me great pain. That being said, every time I went to the ER for help they always finished the conversation with ".....when you get rehooked back up...." Well, finally they helped me and did the revision of my original ileostomy and found the stricture and adhesions and there was no more talk about being rehooked back up. Anyway, I don't believe that I would have chosen to do the surgery because I can't take being cut open again. I guess you have to decide if you want a J Pouch or not. I just didn't want to have one of those but the doctor told me that he had left enough of my rectum that they would have just used that but it is moot now. Whatever you decide, I hope it works out for you.

Mar 06, 2018 5:16 pm

Bill, just a little tongue in cheek here...when I saw your "Hello" to this person all I could think of was Jerry Seinfeld saying "Hello Newman". I just had this visual and started laughing. It really cheered up my somewhat dismal day of waking up to good old snow and cabin fever!! Thank you. If for any reason you do not know Seinfeld, please Google him and Newman and you will know who I am referring to. Have a great day!

Mar 06, 2018 5:35 pm

I love your screen name! My hubby wants to go on a hunt in Washington sometime. It would be pretty fun!

Mar 06, 2018 5:45 pm

I can so relate to you! I look like all the coal trains in Montana could ride around on my tummy. I will not be having a reversal. As I explained in my reply to this gentleman, I had a revision and the doctor said I am no longer a good candidate for the surgery. It's OK though. Miss Maxine and I finally have an understanding since getting the revision. Have a lovely day!

Jun 06, 2023 1:39 am
Reply to Fraidy Cat

Who did you use for the reversal? And if you don't mind my asking - what was the reversal recovery like?

Jun 06, 2023 1:40 am
Reply to Fraidy Cat

Who did you use for the reversal? And if you don't mind my asking - what was the reversal recovery like?

Jan 22, 2024 10:15 pm
Reply to Fraidy Cat

I have found your experience of emergency colostomy and hernia very interesting as I am going through something very similar and with a large hernia. You have helped me enormously. Thank you.