Stoma Reversals and Their Benefits

What Is A Stoma?

A stoma is a way to release feces from the body after a major or minor surgery. Part of the bowel is brought to the surface of the abdomen and a small pouch is placed there to collect excrement. This solution to remove waste can be a permanent or a temporary solution, depending on your condition and your doctor’s recommendations.

What Are Stoma Reversals?

If your doctor thinks that your condition is temporary or that you have recovered well after surgery, they may elect to perform a stoma reversal. This means that you can reconnect your bowel and your colon and close up the site of the stoma.

To determine if you are eligible for a stoma reversal your doctor should do a thorough inspection of the stoma site and your bowel movements. They should examine your rectum and your sphincter muscles to ensure that they are strong enough for bowel movements. They should also give you an enema to ensure that there are no leaks or tears in your bowel. Your doctor may also elect to give you a CT scan to check for any diseases that could affect your bowels.

What To Expect From A Stoma Reversal Surgery?

If you and your doctor agree to pursue a stoma reversal surgery, you can expect to have one anywhere from three months to twelve months after the initial surgery. This gives your muscles enough time to heal and helps ensure optimal function.

If there are no complications, the procedure should take about two hours to perform. You will be placed under general anaesthetic. After surgery you will only be allowed to eat liquids and will be advised to stay on bed rest. This gives your body time to heal and helps to ensure you will not have any bowel movements that could infect the area. After a few days, your doctor will recommend that you eat soft foods and move around to help aid in your recovery.

Typically, people stay in the hospital for about four days after a stoma reversal so that a doctor can keep close eye on recovery and ensure that there are no complications or infections. If you do not experience any of these things, you will typically be released from the hospital around day four.

Similar to other surgeries, you will not be allowed to lift heavy objects for at least six weeks. You will have a post-op check up around the same time. If you experience any unusual symptoms or are in severe pain you may need to contact your doctor immediately.

Returning To Normal Life

A stoma reversal is a serious, but routine, procedure. It can take months to regain full control over your bowels. Many people who have had a stoma reversal often experience diarrhea or constipation, pain, soreness, and incontinence. These things can make recovery a challenge, however the more you move and exercise the better your recovery will be.

Eating a good and well balanced diet can also help aid in recovery after a stoma reversal. You may choose to use wet wipes when cleaning your stoma area to help ensure you remove all bacteria. It can also make the area less painful. Using wet wipes can protect your skin and help you return to life quicker.

Common Stoma Complications to Watch Out For

Stoma patients often experience a host of related issues. Thankfully most of these are easy to take care of. But one first needs to identify the issues before determining how to treat them.

Skin irritation

This is the most common issue among ostomates. Skin around the stoma can easily become irritated or even inflamed. If this is related to a colostomy than one should consider whether fecal contamination might factor in. Ileostomy patients might have similar concerns for acidic leakage.

The problem also might come down to the stoma bag. It should fit securely around the stoma. It shouldn’t dig into the skin or cause any cuts or bleeding. Some people also suffer from allergies related to the applience’s material.

Leaking from the stoma

Ostomates should expect to encounter leaks every now and then. But if this happens on a frequent basis it might suggest an underlying problem. An ill fitting stoma bag is the most common cause of frequent leakage. One should check to make sure that the hole fits around the stoma correctly. People with a flat or retracted stoma might want to discuss convex wafers as well.

Bleeding from or around the stoma

Bleeding around the stoma usually seems far more serious than it actually is. The most common cause is simply chafing of the skin around one’s stoma. However, it’s important to talk to a doctor or nurse if the bleeding is coming from within the stoma itself.

Prolapses

This refers to situations where the stoma pushes out to an abnormal extent. This can occur for a number of reasons. But the most common causes are those in which one’s body mass increases. For example, pregnancy or rapid weight gain can cause a stoma prolapse. While this isn’t an immediate danger in most cases one should still consult with a doctor or nurse to discuss it.

Retractions

This is in many ways the reversal of the situation one faces with a prolapse. A stoma usually extends a little above one’s skin. If the stoma is at the same level as the surrounding skin, or is recessed, it’s considered a retraction. The biggest concern with a retraction comes from issues related to the bag’s fit. One might see increased amounts of leakage or skin irritation as a result of retractions.

Hernias

Sometimes loops from one’s intestine can push through abdominal muscles in proximity to the stoma. It’s usually felt as a physical mass or lump directly behind the area of one’s stoma. This can cause physical pain. And most of the other symptoms can come along with a hernia. This is in large part because the physical mass interferes with a bag’s proper fit. The physical symptoms are usually somewhat mild at the start. But over time it can cause severe issues such as continual vomiting or intense pain. As such one should talk to a doctor about it as soon as possible.

Obstructions

An obstruction refers to anything which impedes the movement of fecal material. The underlying cause might simply be dietary issues. However, it can also be due to scar tissue or other problems related to the stoma. One should increase fluid consumption and decrease solid foods for a while if there’s an obstruction. Hot liquids, such as tea, can also help address the issue. If the issue doesn’t correct itself after dietary changes have been made than one should consult with medical professionals.

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