Flatal Incontinence after Fistulotomy

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Hi, I need some guidance. I'm really at my whits end and don't know what to do anymore. 

At age 23, I developed a horrible skin tag that put me in the ER for bleeding. The first surgeon I saw wouldn't perform surgery. Instead he gave me an ointment that helped relax my muscles and make using the bathroom easier. It helped for about a year then came back with a vengeance. I had just started dating my now husband and was super embarrassed so I went to another doctor. She right away wanted to perform surgery to remove the tag. While hesitant I was so ready to be over the pain. Surgery went well but after I healed I started having such bad pain after bowel movements. Like to the point I couldn't walk or even sit comfortably. She gave me some ointments before performing another surgery in which she removed a little more but also cut a tiny bit of the muscle due to having a fissure. Another surgery gone wrong... I then developed an abscess which landed me in the ER again. This was hands down the worst time in my life. I was horrified reading about abscess and anal fistulas. For about a year she tried treating it with antibiotics and drainage but it wasn't subsiding. Ultimately it came down to a third surgery.... fistulotomy. 

Surgery was a piece of cake, as was healing even. Everything went well. But 6 months after the surgery and being fully healed, I started noticing an inability to control gas. My husband had me laughing so hard and I just had no control. 

It's been 2 years now and it's really affecting my social life. I'm always on edge and uneasy. I never want to go to get togethers which I once loved. I have an anxiety about car rides now. I'm a complete wreck and haven't been able to really be happy and enjoy my relationship... though he makes me happy and I love him dearly. He's the only reason I get up and fight this everyday at work. 

I am wondering if anyone has dealt with flats incotinence due to surgery and if kegel exercises can help? 

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    hey, Kegel can help, I think probably as we get older everyone should do this. We exercise other muscles so why not these too? how old are you now? can I PM you about the rest? I hope things are better soon.
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    • Posted

      I am really hoping that helps. I'm making an appointment tomorrow to see a specialist who can maybe help me do these exercises to the fullest. I am now 26. A 26 year old female... no babies yet... I just feel like my life is over. I'm really in a dark place due to this. It's like my worst nightmare came true. It doesn't help that I've already suffered from social anxiety for all my life. But never this bad. Now when I think back to before this happened, I think I had it so easy then with my anxiety compared to now. I miss my social life and having fun with friends. And I want to have babies but now I'm horrified it'll get worse if I do have a baby. I don't think the surgery was too invasive. She assured me that I shouldn't have problems. So maybe they're just weak from all of the trauma? I can't help but to think it's irreversible.  Thank you for replying. You can PM me if you would like. 

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    • Posted

      Hi! I had an abscess in Sept 2015, I had it drained then they put a wick (packing) in the wound.. It healed too quick on the outside before the inside healed and I had to have the wound made larger so it could be packed every day until it healed. It healed by end of Oct 2015, and was ok,, then last year a tiny hole opened. I stopped eating sugar all was ok but lately the hole opened again I think it's a fistula but don't want surgery. I can feel a tiny tube underneath my scar which I think is the tunnel of the fistula. It drains only occasionly. I don't want the surgery affecting my life, should i leave it alone? I bath all the time I have a little drainge only drainage after being to the bathroom.

      I am 38 and female, it makes me feel dirty and manky, I am scared the surgery will be a botch job from what horror stories I've read. A seton sounds horrific and dirty. 

      I am slim, I ride, cycle, fell walk and conquered many mountains. I don't smoke or drink alcohol. Can't understand why!!!

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  • Posted

    So sorry you are dealing with this. I have a slight issue I would say, I'm about 10 months post fistulotomy. In addition to kegals, I also try to stay very regular which seems to help. I do fiber supplements at the first sign of irregularity, I can't do them daily. I also try to keep my bladder empty as often as possible, seems like it happens more often when i need to use the restroom. I also try to avoid certain foods that just tend to give me more gas.  Good luck and please update if you find some things that help. I sometimes worry that as I get older I will be more prone to issues than the average person - only 35 right now, so I would like have some suggestions in my pocket. 

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    • Posted

      I definitely recommend starting kegels early. This is something I wish my surgeon had told me to do. I think waiting 2 years now out of embarrassment might make it harder to strengthen. It's sad - every morning I wake up and make sure I have two sips of coffee before I leave the house. This way I can empty my bowels first thing in the morning. It doesn't always help though and sometimes makes it worse. I definitely recommend taking probiotics. At least since taking them I haven't had diarrhea at all which is great because even that can be hard to hold sometimes. Let me know if kegels continue to help or if you find any help from doctors. Good luck and I hope things get better soon for you too. 

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  • Posted

    Yes coffee can have this laxative effect but it can also make the situation worse if you don't evacuate properly. Hot water works well. IMHO think it sounds like you also have IBS. Someone told me recently taking Bone broth helps IBS so this might also be something to try alongside the probiotics. Maybe you don't drink alcohol but if you do it can cause uncontrollable IBSD a day or two later and I know other people who have been through fistula operations who have the same issue. Have you been back to your doctor and tell them your symptoms and ask them their opinion? There is a medication they use in the UK called Amitriptyline for people with anxiety and IBS, I can't take it because it causes me dehydration issues and when you have IBS you already need to drink alot of water. It might be worth asking your doctor about this just even as a trial to see how you get on with it but if you stop taking it you need to stop slowly. I don't like suggesting medication to anyone but it might help here. I don't think it will matter about waiting two years to start Kegel, I just think it will take a little more work with it before you notice any difference. Again your doctor can advise on how the muscles and exercising them really works. Would be great to hear how you go with the kegal. Good Luck.

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    • Posted

      I was sort of afraid that maybe me using the coffee to empty my bowels would probably make things worse. That makes sense because I don't really have to use much muscle contraction, its just super easy. I think I'm going to cut out the coffee. It's just so hard with work - sitting next to someone in a quiet cube and especially meetings. I am going to set up an appointment with my surgeon. Thank you for the suggestions and information. Maybe I do have IBS. I know that my anxiety makes my stomach issues and gas much worse. I need to get to the bottom of what the surgeon really did too - my husband, boyfriend at the time, wasn't much help when I get out of surgery and he didn't listen to what the surgeon said about it. I guess the unknown isn't helping my anxiety much either about the situation. Be nice to hear that she didn't cut the sphincter and they're just weak - but I'm also afraid of hearing the opposit. I will let you know what I find out and give any additional information that may be helpful to you if I have some. Thanks again. 

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  • Posted

    Best to know and then you can take it from there. It's all trial and error but you will get there.  Many thanks for your reply. Would be great to hear how you get on. Take care.

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  • Posted

    Hi! I had an abscess in Sept 2015, I had it drained then they put a wick (packing) in the wound.. It healed too quick on the outside before the inside healed and I had to have the wound made larger so it could be packed every day until it healed. It healed by end of Oct 2015, and was ok,, then last year a tiny hole opened. I stopped eating sugar all was ok but lately the hole opened again I think it's a fistula but don't want surgery. I can feel a tiny tube underneath my scar which I think is the tunnel of the fistula. It drains only occasionly. I don't want the surgery affecting my life, should i leave it alone? I bath all the time I have a little drainge only drainage after being to the bathroom.

    I am 38 and female, it makes me feel dirty and manky, I am scared the surgery will be a botch job from what horror stories I've read. A seton sounds horrific and dirty. 

    I am slim, I ride, cycle, fell walk and conquered many mountains. I don't smoke or drink alcohol. Can't understand why!!!

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    • Posted

      Hi there. They say that an abscess never heals in its own without surgery. I went a year with mine before the doctor finally said surgery was the answer. We tried draining it and lots of different antibiotics but it never healed. Mine though was a fistula. The surgery itself and healing was honestly a piece of cake. I wasn't in any kind of pain at all right after - felt like a million bucks instantly. So while it healed my pain, I'm not so sure I would rather this slight issue over having dealt with it. Only thing tho, left untreated can make it much worse. The abscess and fistula can grow and become more complicated which poses a greater risk of incontinence post op. I suggest getting a couple different opinions from actual colorectal surgeons. I unfortunately didn't realize my surgeon was only a general surgeon. Good luck & hope to hear back on how things go. 

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