How Long After Ileostomy Can It Be Reversed (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 3 to 6 Months

The Ileostomy is a temporary surgery that can be reversed. There are many benefits to reversing the Ileostomy. This surgery reverses the following: 

A reversal will make it so that you have regular bowel movements once again and may not need to wear a belt or change your diet as much because of diarrhea or constipation anymore. You’ll also no longer need to worry about leaks in public restrooms since you will have control over your bowels again. 

Not only would this improve quality of life, but it also has been shown that people who had their ileostomies reversed were more likely to live longer than those who didn’t reverse their procedures. Do you want to know how long it may take to reverse the procedure? Let’s Dive in…

How Long After Ileostomy Can It Be Reversed?

ProcedureTime Gap
Ileostomy reversal procedure 40 Minutes
Planned ileostomy reversal surgeries3 to 6 months

An ileostomy is a surgical operation in which an opening is created to allow the waste products from the small intestine and colon to be passed outside the body. It usually occurs after other treatments for bowel cancer have failed.

In an ileostomy, the terminal ileum is bypassed to reroute fecal matter to a neighboring region. When fecal matter builds up in the body, this can create complications like dehydration and bowel obstruction. 

This procedure takes place via surgery and does not require dietary modifications after it is sustained. While the reversal of Ileostomy is possible with intestinal tract reconstruction or resection, these are only performed for select cases because they are considered higher risk surgeries.

One reason why surgeons may disapprove of reversing an Ileostomy is that more times than not, the material diseased condition returns after it is reversed. Why this occurs isn’t entirely understood, but most physicians suspect benign conditions such as diverticulitis.

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A reversal operation is possible, but it’s often challenging and will take a long time to plan for.

There are many nuances to ileostomy reversal surgery, and you have to go in with realistic expectations – just as we might when we’re planning other cosmetic procedures for ourselves. 

Generally speaking, the longer your current Ileostomy has been in place (e.g., 2+ years), the greater the likelihood that complications will occur during or after removal of the stoma bags on which you depend for normal bowel function. 

Reversal surgery often means opening up part or all of your abdominal cavity under general anaesthesia, so make sure of all the possibilities.

Why Does It So Long For After Ileostomy To Be Reversed?

The ileostomy procedure takes about 2 hours, and it’s usually done in an outpatient setting. If you’re considering the surgery, consult with your doctor to see if you qualify for this treatment option. It is a straightforward procedure carried out under general anaesthetic. 

There is no single answer to this question, but a few things to be aware of are:

  • Many different kinds of ileostomies (based on the location of where the pouch is)
  • Other reasons as to why you may have been fitted with an ileostomy (for example Crohn’s Disease, bowel cancer)
  • Based on the reason for needing one in the first place and how you learned to adapt your diet differently
  • For some patients it may take longer than others

We know about Crohn’s disease patients who develop ileostomies because more than 60% had never or rarely eaten away from home before they developed their condition. 

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This is also because it takes at least several weeks for the colon to heal after being surgically removed. 

Doctors will typically recommend waiting a couple of months before considering reversal surgery because they want time enough for the remaining section of the intestine to heal and allow you to digest solid food normally without pain. If this can happen, there’s less risk that your Ileostomy will be needed again. 

Keep in mind that the surgery is usually only performed if you are in good health and have entirely recovered from the effects of the previous surgery.

Conclusion

When it comes to reversing an ileostomy, the time frame can vary from person to person. In general, surgery is usually scheduled when a patient’s symptoms have subsided and are good enough for the procedure. 

The timing of your reversal will depend on how long you have initially been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis before having your ostomy reversed. 

If you had an ileostomy for ten years or less, surgeons would typically schedule this two to three months after stopping medications that control bowel inflammation (such as steroids). This timeline might be shorter if there was no previous damage done to your colon lining at the time of diagnosis due to chronic use of medication.

Reference

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0011384077800658 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0002961099000914 
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