Monday, May 09, 2022

What Will Life After My Ileostomy Reversal be Like?

By Derek Benoit March 24th, 2022

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My ileostomy reversal date of April 11th is fast approaching. To put myself in the best position possible, I decided to research the procedure’s likely post-surgical symptoms, complications, and other considerations to ease my mind a bit. I wanted to know as best as possible what life after Ileostomy Reversal will be like. Here’s what I came up with:

After my ileostomy reversal, these won’t be in my personal inventory anymore. Photo by Derek Benoit

Average Physical Recovery Times Following an Ileostomy Reversal

Expected recovery time for the incision: 4-6 weeks; “normal” function 6-8 weeks, possibly up to 1 year ( 2021) since the colon must “relearn” to absorb water and do its other jobs. Heavy lifting and abdominal strain will be avoided likely for 6 weeks to avoid herniation of the healing abdominal muscles and a requisite corrective surgery. Especially important is that herniation of the bowel is also prevented by avoiding the mentioned activities.

Typical Post-Surgical Symptoms Following Ileostomy Reversal Surgery

Frequent & Urgent Bowel Movements

  • High number of watery, frequent bowel movements
  • Decreases by ½ within a couple of weeks
  • Decreases to 4-8 per day within months to a year

Since I still need dialysis both as an inpatient and at home, this could get very interesting. I’ll be a captive audience for up to three hours per session at a time. Remember that line from Samuel L. Jackson in Jurassic Park? “Hold onto your butts!”


  • For 2-3 months occasional incontinence
  • Typically overnight during sleep (OAB, 2021; Ostomy Connection, 2017)

Adjustments to Diet Following Ileostomy Reversal Surgery

  • Small, more frequent meals throughout the day (already accustomed to such because of diabetic gastroparesis)
  • Especially limit food intake in the evening to reduce bowel movement urgency and severity overnight
  • Chew food well
  • Eat low fiber foods
  • Gradually reintroduce more “advanced” foods to diet

The easier to digest the food, the easier digestion will be on the recovering bowels. I fully expect to have a consultation with a nutritionist before I’m discharged from BIDMC following surgery. There will likely be continued follow up as my recovery diet progresses and becomes more “exotic.” (Reference Staff, 2020).

Skin Protection and Other Post Ileostomy Reversal Considerations

There are some concerning issues I’m reading about following an ileostomy reversal. First is that the skin surrounding the anus can become very irritated as a result of the persistent diarrhea common with most patients. Consequently, skin care is going to be a very big priority. I’m already immune suppressed, so any infection to said area could become a major problem.

Secondly, I’m seeing across various message boards that patients have to wear some sort of adult diaper post procedure. In hind sight, reading the symptoms listed above, I can see how it would help. Still, this is a bit of a vexing reality for me. I’m just going to have to accept this possibility and count my blessings in laundry loads saved.


Ostomy Association of Boston. (April, 2021). What to expect when recovering from ileostomy reversal Surgery.

Ostomy Connection (no author). (March 29th, 2017, upated October 17th, 2017). Ostomy Connection.  4 Common symptoms after ileostomy reversal Surgery.

Pvillage. (2021).How long does a stoma reversal wound take to heal?

Reference Staff. (Updated April 4th, 2020). What are diet recommendations after an ileostomy Reversal? Reference. World View.

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