Recovery and Return to Work After Rectum Removal Surgery?

Feb 22, 2018 12:10 pm

Hi there.

I had my emergency surgery in September 2017 for my stoma. Now I'm one week away from getting a "Barbie Butt." I'm super scared. Any thoughts, comments, or helpful tips would be greatly appreciated. Also, wondering about the recovery time as far as when I can return to work. I have a desk job.

Feb 22, 2018 1:20 pm

Hi basegirl13,

I'm looking at the same surgery this fall. At my last appointment with my surgeon, he told me my recovery would be 4 weeks. I was told to invest in a quality hemorrhoid cushion, I can see where that would come in handy, keeping pressure off of wounds. Please keep us posted, I'd like to follow you through this so I'll know what to expect when my turn comes. Good luck, and best wishes.


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Feb 22, 2018 2:01 pm

Hi there.

You bet I'll keep you posted on my progress and let you know how it goes.

Feb 22, 2018 2:19 pm

When I had mine, the pads used to cover the incision were too thick and put pressure on it. I also used a cushion (pillow) for a while. I cannot remember how long it took before I gave up the cushion. Best of luck.

Feb 22, 2018 2:59 pm

Hi... I had my surgery at the same time I had the ileostomy surgery. I was a bit sore for about 3-4 weeks. I was back to work full time in 7 weeks ... I am an outside sales rep and do a lot of driving. If I overdid it, I felt it. My only recommendation is to not rush the healing process. If your incision feels uncomfortable... take a break and rest. Take care and good luck. LH

How to Manage Ostomy Leaks with LeeAnne Hayden | Hollister
Feb 22, 2018 4:56 pm

My "back-side" surgery was quick and uneventful. It was a long time ago, but I remember recovery to the point of returning to work was something like a week to ten days. Little to no post-surgery pain. A little seepage for a short time, but no big deal. Good luck!

Past Member
Feb 22, 2018 7:06 pm

Hi Jerz from Baltimore. I had colon cancer with a year's level 5 pain that left after radiation. It took me 3 months before I could stand the way I used to. Your blood pressure will be high. Scared rabbit feeling. Get smashed before. Saying goodbye to a part of you. Life will be better for you if you just keep in mind, the more you eat, the more you will go. Before, you could store till you get up and go. Now it will be waiting for you to tend. The biggest thing after getting over your loss of your part. I will pray that the strength I had comes to you. I'm still getting over it. I don't think we ever do. It's okay, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I feel sorry for people who have to work with this. Keep a lot of pillows and blankets around you to keep you on your sides and back. Sooner or later, you will live.

Feb 22, 2018 10:43 pm

Hi, I've had ileostomy since 2009 emergency surgery due to Crohn's disease.

Saw my surgeon last week to discuss removal of rectum stump, reason being is my anal canal is closing up, therefore no longer able to have regular checks for cancer.

Anybody had this problem, unsure whether to go through with surgery, suffered badly last time with slow healing process, surgeon says will probably have a lot of teething problems!!!!

Feb 23, 2018 6:22 am

Hello Basegirl13.  Thank you so much for posting on this subject. It has been an option for me for quite a while but I've always put off thinking about it because I don't like the idea of further surgery. However, I'm beginning to get a lot more pain down there and it had crossed my mind that sooner or later I should consider having it removed.  It's great to read so many replies and comments about it.

Best wishes


October Born
Feb 23, 2018 11:34 am

Hi Basegirl13,

I had mine done when my ileostomy was made permanent and I'm not going to lie, it was very sore for quite a while. My incision had 3 hard lumps, 1 on each end and 1 in the middle, have no idea why but that's what I had and it took about 4-5 months for those to go away. At my post-op appointment, my doctor told me to put gauze there and it really works to make it more comfortable. I would change every time I used the restroom so you go through quite a bit of them since we drink so much water we have to pee all the time. I tried different brands (cheaper) but the best was Band-Aid 2x2 gauze pads. Very soft and comfortable. When washing, use antibacterial soap and be very gentle using your hand. Pat dry, again gentle. Fold the gauze pad in half and put it in place. Like my doctor always says, "everyone is different" so you may have a different experience but I hope this helps. Good luck and best wishes.


Feb 24, 2018 2:25 pm

I had sigmoid colon, rectum, and anus removed due to cancer in September. I was in the hospital for a week. I was then discharged from the hospital with an air cushion to sit on. I was also told not to sit for long periods of time without getting up and walking around a bit to get pressure off the butt. I was told not to apply any creams to the area. I had wanted to use Tucks wipes but was told by the stoma nurses not to. Just mild soap and water to gently clean. After about a week, the pain became just discomfort. Sit down gently and use the air cushion when possible. I am impatient and hoped everything would heal as fast as the stoma and incision, but was told by stoma nurses the anal suturing could take 1 - 6 months to completely heal. At 3 months, it was almost healed with the exception of one suture which had pulled a little - but it didn't bother me at all.

Please do not be worried about your operation. Everything should go well. Just take a day at a time and be easy with yourself.

Feb 24, 2018 9:15 pm

Hi there BaseGirl. I've had my ostomy for years and have a J-Pouch which is disconnected because of pouchitis. It looks like I will need to have my rectum and J-Pouch removed next time I get a flare-up. I am dreading the thought of it. After many years alone, I have met a lady. The sex is amazing when we get together! It is long distance but we are definitely in a "thing" I do not want to lose my ability to get an erection! We've only spent a few weeks together...her in California, me in Ireland.

Although I'm a man, I think your coming experience will be very instructive and helpful for me....please write about your experience with side effects...if any...hopefully not!! My sexual function is now more important to me than ever and I would hate to lose it.

I look forward to reading your future posts BaseGirl.

Best of luck to you and I hope your problems are few and far between. Love and hugs to you from Ireland. Magoo.

Sun,sea & sand
Feb 27, 2018 7:41 am


First time I have actually added something on here but hope it helps basegirl13. I had a proctectomy in October, so therefore no rectum anymore. I have to be completely honest and say that the 'bottom' side of my op was not troublesome at all to start and I could sit quite easily. What I had a lot of trouble with was my tail end/coccyx, and I was given a cushion to support this. I had a great deal of discharge and bled vaginally, which really worried me as this went on for weeks. However, I am definitely not trying to scare you because this was completely normal and it did stop, as did my coccyx pain. It gets a lot easier, in fact, it just aches a little now, but a heat pad does the trick. As far as my bottom, that started to bother me later, but again, it is perfectly normal and heat helps. It just gets a bit sore after a day's activity, and also you do get a feeling that something is 'there' and also now and again a bearing down feeling, but again, I am told that is normal and can go on for a long time after. I hope this helps, and I wish you well. I had a temporary colostomy 18 years ago and got a lot of leakage from my back passage, so that is why it was decided to remove my rectum this time, no reversal ever, but to be honest, life is so much easier with the stoma anyway, so taking the rectum was an easy decision and I truly believe the correct one for me. I wish you well and let us know how you get on.

Apr 04, 2018 4:24 am

I had my ileostomy surgery 5 weeks ago and they removed my rectum and closed my anus. I have to say the anus has hurt more than the surgery site at times and for a longer amount of time. But it is not unbearable. My surgeon said it is a very sensitive area and you feel it longer. My advice is just sit carefully. I never used a special cushion. But it is sometimes necessary to shift my weight to a side slightly so that the pressure is not focused in that area. I have had minimal leakage but I think everyone is different in that regard. But you can wear a small pantyliner for that as needed. Best of luck to you, and don't worry about that too much. You won't need it anymore anyway, lol!

Apr 14, 2018 3:38 pm

Hi, I hope by now, base girl, that you are well on your way to recovery. I had mine done at the same time as my colostomy. I found it more uncomfortable than the surgery itself. Not unbearable but uncomfortable. My hubby got me a great gel-filled pillow at Costco. I still use it on international flights and long car trips. For me, the itch and burning feeling as the stitches dried out before removal were the hardest part. Good luck and best wishes to all of you.

May 01, 2018 3:57 pm

Hey Basegirl, how has the recovery gone for you?

May 21, 2018 7:08 am

All right, so here's my 2 cents.

I've had an ostomy since I was 15 - now 35. Rectum remaining for potential reconnect. Decided reconnect had more risks involved than rectum removal, and life with ostomy has been very good.

Went into the surgery here very healthy overall. Leaned out a little prior to, under the advice of the surgeon's office that I would heal faster in general with less body fat. I'm not a big guy to begin with, but I dropped 10 lbs prior to surgery, and then post of lost another 15-20 lbs. D'oh! Looked like a bag of bones walking around. I did not have an extra 20 lbs to lose, but here we are. Looking back, I think I would have tried to fatten up prior to instead! Guess it's a safe bet you'll lose weight when they physically remove part of your body and then you don't eat for 2 weeks.

April 20, 2018, had rectal stump (8") and anus removed. Had to zipper me open, as they attempted to go in laparoscopically but encountered a ton of scar tissue, taking on an extra 3 hours to operate. Resulted in a bit of swelling shifting of stuff around ostomy, but now 4 weeks post-operation, the abdominal incision is healed solid, and could probably resume using full-size skin barrier as I had prior (meaning a portion covers the incision on my tummy) without any concern, and most swelling and skin shifting around ostomy has returned back to normal.

I wasn't blessed with a well-behaved digestive system in general, and that behavior didn't change when it came to this operation. Tried to start eating and drinking as soon as I got the green light, but it took my guts a good 8 or 9 days to wake up. Apparently, they go to sleep while in an operation such as this and most don't have this issue. Did everything I could that was suggested, sugar-free gum, drinking water, aloe vera gel, but my guys were simply on their own time frame. This linked directly to my appetite, to which I'm happy to report is pretty well back now, but it was quite disheartening not wanting to have anything to do with food. Just another factor I wasn't anticipating. I love food. I really do. For me, my appetite came back ever so gradually, but it did come back.

Other bodily functions seem to be returning slowly as well. Peeing after surgery was a near nightmare. Once they pulled out the catheter, it took me a while to 'remember' how to pee, they were threatening to put in a catheter to break the seal so to speak, while I was conscious!!!!!!!! So I sat on the can, put my hand under warm running water and thought real hard, like more than I ever have about how to pee, waterfalls, swift moving rivers, garden hoses, running water in general, and magically it worked. I cried in relief I wasn't getting re-cathetered. Sexual function seems to be working fine, but as expected with all the muscles involved down there, things feel a bit different, but progressively feeling more and more back to normal. Similar with peeing, as magical as that first pee was, felt super weird throughout my abdomen and pelvis at first, and is now near normal.

So that was the good part. Man, my butt is a butt. I saw an earlier post on here somewhere that said someone requested their surgeon keep the patient's anus intact. Well, shit, I didn't know that was an option! So they took the whole package out, rectum, anus, and then put in 8 stitches (that I can see). They tell me they dissolve. I must have gotten the long-lasting delayed dissolve stitches or something, as they're still there. Love them. Said nobody ever. Pretty tender at times.

So far, I've been trying to manage this discomfort - no drugs other than the odd Tylenol, so really given that, it's not that bad. But showering twice a day to ensure cleanliness, using my superhero wife's hair blow dryer to blow dry the old poop shoot till it's bone dry, and I've been a bit concerned about a small infection on one of the suture sites so Polysporin to boot. Also, I've been trying to do 1 or 2 Epsom salt baths for 20 mins a day to give it a good soak, GP and nurses suggested it's a good way to help with infection, cleaning, and odor, details spared on that one - holy! Yeah.

Sleeping kinda sucks still, ironically got better last week as I went out got me a case of laryngitis along with a chest cold, so as much as it sucked coughing, sneezing, and not being able to speak, taking NyQuil before bed helped me sleep. But now I'm not sick, so I don't take NyQuil, so I don't sleep. Butt stitches I find are just annoying. I'll get a couple of hours of rest in, but then it starts to tingle, itch, or burn. Shower helps, it's just weird at 2 am. Frustrating to be honest. At least there's Netflix.

Read a few posts about stuffing some gauze up there to help keep it dry and clean, been doing that for the last few days for small chunks of time. Seems to help keep it more dry and clean as it still weeps a bit.

What else...

I live a pretty physical lifestyle, so it's tough. Surgeon follow-up is in 1 week, probably not gonna be cleared for light duties yet, but work is supportive so I'm not rushing that side, but 2 kids that I want to play with is probably the toughest part. For any of you who stumbled onto this and managed to keep reading through my rambling, and also just got their ostomy... (disclaimer - everyone is different) if you want to continue your once active lifestyle, it's 100% up to you. Attitude is a big part of this. I'm having to listen to my own words here, but you will get back to where you were. To be honest, my greatest accomplishments in life by far have come with a pouch. (Granted I was 15 when I got it, but I'm making a point). If you're having issues with leaking, failures, etc., sit down with a stoma nurse - they have lots of info, and often lots of free samples to try different pouches. Be open.

Anyways, so here we are so far so good, hoping to get back on my bike in the future, making that my goal. I don't even really like riding my bike that much, but at this point, it seems like the most difficult goal to achieve, so pitter patter. I'll check back in once I'm back on the hill. In the meantime, happy to answer questions, provide insight or advice for any folks out there adjusting to life with an ostomy.