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Recovery for GRACILIS flap surgery to repair RVF

Has anyone had the GRACILIS flap surgery where they use your leg muscle to heal a RVF fistula? I am having this surgery next month and have lots of questions about your experience in the healing after the surgery. They will be using a temporary illeostomy bag, catheter and I will have a drain. I can not sit for 6 weeks. I have never had any of these so just concerned about managing all of those once I get home from the hospital. Thanks in advance to anyone that can share :)


Staff member
Hi ncmom,

Welcome, I'm not familiar with that particular flap surgery. I have had an advancement flap surgery before for a rectal fistula, but it used surrounding tissue for the repair. I'm pretty sure someone will have had that same procedure before though. Best of luck to you.


Staff member
New York, USA
Sorry to hear you are going to have surgery - have you tried other treatments first such as Remicade or another biologic? I had an RVF, but never had surgery for it - instead was able to heal it on Remicade....
Hi Lisa, Unfortuantly it is so far advanced that this will be my 5th surgery. They don't want to start the biologics until after this repair because it may weaken my immune system before surgery and can actually make it harder fo my body to reverse the illeostomy bag. Surgeries are no fun but I think it is so progressed that he Crohn's team is saying this is my only option at this point
I had a gracilis repair for a anal fistula in September of 2016, following a similar protocol of having an ileo done prior to. The ileo adjustment was challenging but the gracilis surgery definitely was the toughest procedure I've dealt with...but you'll come through!

I was in the hospital for four days and three nights, I believe, and I did leave with a drain that was removed a week or so after I was home. I was fortunate to have someone to help me out and modified where/how I slept and just gradually worked on walking. The doctors scared me that any separation of my legs could compromise the repair but I slowly gained mobility. Before I left the hospital, an occupational therapist helped with some modifications (graspers, the thing to help you put socks on (it was winter), etc.).

The good news is that the repair has worked/held for me...however, I am not reconnected. I developed a RVF after this procedure and we are trying to tackle that with new drugs and possibly surgery before I can consider a reversal.

Happy to answer questions! You can do this!