So You Have a Temporary Ostomy…

You’ve just found out you will have an ostomy…but only temporarily? Believe it or not, there is such thing as a reversible ostomy. This means that you will not have an ostomy forever, however you will need to learn how to live with one for the time being. Here are some things to know if you have a temporary ostomy.

How is an ostomy created?

One-third of fecal ostomies (colostomies and ileostomies) are reversible. How is this possible? A temporary ostomy occurs when an opening is created in the abdomen to expel stool from either the large or small intestine. This allows the remainder of the bowel to heal without the irritation caused by the passage of stool. Temporary ostomies are often loop stomas. Alternatively, end stomas may also be temporary depending on the needs of each particular patient. It’s best to discuss with your doctor which type of temporary ostomy is best for you.

Types of temporary ostomies

A “loop” ostomy is when a stoma is created using a continuous section of the bowel instead of completely splitting it off. The patient will then have two openings on the same stoma (the part of the bowel seen on the abdomen where the pouching system is applied). Reversing this procedure involves reconnecting the open section of the loop. It is a quick operation with a relatively short recovery time. An “end” ostomy requires the bowel to be completely separated. Therefore, the procedure to reattach the two sections of the bowel is more complicated and will require more time for recovery.

A patient may have their temporary ostomy for any period of time, from a couple of months to years. The general time frame for an ostomy reversal procedure is 3 to 6 months from when the ostomy was formed. But there are many reasons for a reversal being done sooner or later than initially planned. Sometimes the resources aren’t available to patients even though they are considered to have fully recovered from their ostomy. Or patients with cancer may need to complete chemotherapy and/or radiation treatments and be allowed time to recover to help reduce the chance of complications before an ostomy reversal surgery can be considered safe. Patients with Crohn’s disease on the other hand may decide not to reverse their ostomy, as many find that having an ostomy helps reduce their symptoms, improving their quality of life.

The main idea is this: reversing your ostomy is a decision that should be made by you and your doctor. Make sure to speak with your ostomy nurse or surgeon if you have any concerns or questions about having an ostomy reversal surgery. And in the meantime, check out our wide range of ostomy supplies here. For more information on eating with an ostomy, check out our blog here.


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