There are many reasons why someone may want to have ostomy reversal surgery.
Some people may not be happy with how they look after having an ostomy. Others may find that their ostomy affects their quality of life in a negative way. Some people may have problems with their ostomy bag or find it difficult to change the bag regularly.
You would need to personally weigh up the pros and cons of reversal surgery. Why did you have your ostomy in the first place? Has your quality of life changed for the better? These are the things that you need to consider before you embark on having surgery.
In this blog, we’re talking about ostomy reversal surgery, its pros and cons, and how my ostomy bag changed my life – for the better!
What is an ostomy?
Ostomy is a surgical procedure in which an artificial opening is made in the abdomen to allow the contents of the intestine (stool) to empty into a collection bag (ostomy bag).
Ostomy is a surgery that has been around for many years. An ostomy is an opening that is made in the abdomen to allow the contents of the intestine to empty into a collection bag. This bag is worn on the outside of the body, directly against the skin.
As an ostomy wearer myself, I want to take some time and share my experience with you and let you know that you are not alone.
Why would one need an ostomy?
An ostomy may be necessary when the intestine (bowel) is damaged or diseased and cannot function properly. There are two main types of ostomies:
1) Colostomy – This type of ostomy is created when the small intestine is diverted through an opening in the abdominal wall. The colostomy bag is attached to the skin around the opening and collects the intestinal contents.
2) Ileostomy – This type of ostomy is created when the small intestine is diverted through an opening in the abdominal wall. The ileostomy bag is attached to the skin around the opening and collects the intestinal contents.
An ostomy may be necessary when the intestine is unable to empty its contents naturally, as in cases of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, or intestinal cancer.
What is Crohn’s Disease?
Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease that can cause significant damage to the intestinal tract.
Though the cause of Crohn’s disease is unknown, it is believed to be due to an abnormal response by the body’s immune system to bacteria or other triggers in the environment.
Symptoms of Crohn’s disease vary, depending on which part of the intestinal tract is affected. Common symptoms include diarrhoea, abdominal pain and cramping, rectal bleeding, weight loss, and fever.
What is Ulcerative Colitis?
Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a long-term inflammatory bowel disease that primarily affects the large intestine and rectum.
Symptoms may vary, but often include abdominal pain, loose and bloody stools, tiredness, weight loss, loss of appetite, and fever. These problems can interfere with daily activities.
Ulcerative colitis is one form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which also includes Crohn’s disease. IBD is caused by an abnormal response by the body’s immune system to normal intestinal bacteria.
What is Intestinal Cancer?
Intestinal cancer is a rare type of cancer that starts in the intestines. The intestines are part of the digestive system. They are a long, coiled tube that starts at the stomach and ends at the anus. The small intestine is in the upper part of the abdomen. The large intestine is in the lower part of the abdomen.
Cancer that starts in the small intestine is called small intestine cancer. Cancer that starts in the large intestine is called colorectal cancer.
Is an ostomy reversable?
There is a surprising lack of information online when it comes to ostomies and their reversibility. This is likely because most people who have ostomies do not want them reversed. However, for those who do, it can be a daunting task to find accurate information. In short, ostomies can be temporary or permanent and can be reversed if necessary.
What is ostomy reversal surgery?
Ostomy reversal surgery is a surgery to remove an ostomy and sew the intestine back together so that waste can pass through the rectum and anus as it did before the ostomy was created. This surgery is usually done when the person with the ostomy has healed sufficiently from the original surgery that created the ostomy.
There are risks associated with any surgery, and an ostomy reversal is no exception. Risks may include infection, bleeding, and bowel obstruction.
However, there are some specific risks associated with ostomy reversal surgery that you should be aware of.
A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons has found that the overall complication rate following ostomy reversal is high, with a significant number of patients developing serious complications such as sepsis and bowel obstruction.
The study, which looked at the outcomes of more than 1,600 patients who underwent ostomy reversal between 2006 and 2015, found that the overall complication rate was 36.5%, with 8.8% of patients requiring surgery for a complication and 2.8% dying because of their surgery.
How an ostomy changed my life – for the better
My life changed drastically when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in my early 20s. After numerous flare-ups and multiple surgeries, I eventually had most of my colon removed and a temporary ileostomy.
Before my ostomy, I remember many days and nights curled up in a ball in bed, unable to walk or stand up – frozen with pain. Crohn’s is exhausting, literally and figuratively. It’s a tired that’s hard to put into words – as if your body is a balloon and every few minutes someone lets the air out, leaving you feeling completely flat, 24/7.
My Crohn’s became so severe that it began to impact every aspect of my life to the point where my doctor suggested I have a hemicolectomy. Sadly, there were numerous complications and after my fifth operation, I had had enough. I asked my surgeon to do whatever it took to fix me and that is when I had my first stoma.
I was not ready mentally for this change, and I rushed to my doctor for a reversal. Within six months, however, I was back on the operating table having my second stoma.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the idea of a stoma – and yes, for a while I really hated it. It took me some time, but I eventually realised that my stoma was actually a gift. I embraced my stoma and even thanked it for helping me feel like me again.
I had spent so many years feeling so sick – but my body had fought to keep me alive, and my stoma bag was a reminder of that. Why should I continue to hate it? Why should I feel ashamed of it?
Once I had done that, nothing was impossible. I felt as if a fire had been ignited within me and I had been given a second chance at life – and I took that chance. In one word, I felt liberated.
While I was back to the old things I always loved doing – travelling, being active (I’ve competed in several triathlon races), making plans, spending time with my kids, and succeeding in the workforce, I encountered a few stumbling blocks.
Ironically, one of the biggest challenges was finding the right underwear. While that may sound a little frivolous when it comes to living with a chronic illness, great fitting nickers really can make you feel like a million bucks, especially when you find a pair designed specifically for ostomy patients.
I started researching different underwear brands that cater to stoma wearers but found most, if not all, were internationally based, and honestly, there were only a handful I felt were really made with stoma users in mind.
There are so many people living in South Africa with ostomies and I thought why not create an underwear range boasting high-quality garments that would give stoma users the freedom and confidence to feel good about themselves and to be able to wear fashionable clothing while being discreet. And so, Vera SA was born.
What is Vera SA?
Vera SA is a proudly South African company established in 2020 that offers a unique range of high-quality underwear specifically designed with stoma wearers in mind.
All ladies’ panties and men’s briefs are custom-made to stylishly conceal and discreetly support ostomy pouches, reducing the possibility of detachment.
Vera SA is a proud partner of CANSA and The South African Society of Ostomates.
Contact VERA SA at 082-833-9200, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or log onto https://www.verasa.store/ for more information.
READ MORE BLOGS BY VERA SA:
HOW TO REDUCE OSTOMY GAS AND ODOURS
REPLACE YOUR COLOSTOMY BAG IN A FEW EASY STEPS
THE PROS & CONS OF DISPOSABLE OSTOMY BAGS
UNDERSTANDING THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT OF OSTOMY SURGERY
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