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What is involved in a stoma reversal procedure?

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Quick Answer

A stoma reversal procedure involves closing the holes in the colon and removing the previously created stoma, according to Medline Plus. This procedure generally occurs 12 weeks after the initial colostomy surgery.

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Cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, diverticulitis and injuries are the most common causes for temporary colostomies, claims the Colostomy Association. Once the bowel has had a chance to heal, a surgeon may be able to reverse the procedure.

Temporary colostomies are generally loop colostomies in the transverse or middle part of the colon, as described by Johns Hopkins Medicine. During the reversal procedure, the surgeon detaches the colon from the abdominal wall and closes the holes.

Surgeons may also reverse end colostomies, but this is more difficult, the Colostomy Association explains. Reversing an end colostomy involves reattaching the two previously cut ends of the colon. The feasibility of reversal depends on how much of the colon remains.

A surgeon may perform the reversal through laparoscopic surgery or through open surgery, as Beating Bowel Cancer explains. The optimal timing for this procedure is three to 12 months after the initial colostomy, giving the bowel time to heal but also reducing the risk of muscle atrophy.

People generally spend three to 10 days in the hospital recovering from stoma reversal, and normal bowel movement does not return immediately, explains the National Health Service. Possible effects of the surgery include constipation, diarrhea, a sore anus, increased frequency of using the bathroom, flatulence and incontinence.

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